America’s Water Infrastructure Requires New Mindset

Trust, cooperate, and innovate for safe water and thriving communities.

Codi Kozacek, Circle of Blue

Infrastructure CatalystAmerica’s substantial water challenges are not secret any longer. Cities poisoned by lead-contaminated drinking water and toxic algae, along with crippling droughts and dwindling groundwater reserves, make it increasingly clear that the nation’s water systems urgently require an overhaul. That was the consensus view of experts convened this week in New York City during H2O Catalyst, an interactive town hall event broadcast live by Circle of Blue with American Public Media and Columbia University.

Listeners from around the world joined the H2O Catalyst broadcast, which focused on the extent of repairs needed to upgrade old and inadequate pipes and treatment plants, and redesign the way water is collected and treated.

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Discussion Leaders

On Wednesday, May 11th, Circle of Blue, American Public Media, and Columbia University brought together national experts and journalists for the first in an urgent H2O Catalyst series of interactive town hall broadcasts exploring the nation’s decaying water systems.

Price of Water 2016: Up 5 Percent in 30 Major U.S. Cities; 48 Percent Increase Since 2010

Utilities respond to changes in water use and availability.

By Brett Walton Circle of Blue

America’s water systems were built to last. Philadelphia is one of the older cities on the Atlantic Coast and Northeast that still use pipes that were installed before the Civil War. The pipes have held up remarkably well over 160 years. But without new parts and maintenance these systems will not last forever. The repair bill has come due and water prices are increasing to pay for it.

The price of water rose 5 percent last year, according to Circle of Blue’s annual survey of 30 major U.S. cities. The median increase was 3.5 percent. The increase continues a steady upward climb in water prices that reflects investment in new infrastructure and a response to declining water sales. The average price climbed 48 percent since 2010.

Click below continue reading and to view the Water Rates Dashboard, an interactive graphic shows seven years of water rates data from 30 major U.S. cities.

Event Host, David Brancaccio

David Brancaccio is the host of American Public Media’s Marketplace Morning Report, now a regular segment on NPR’s Morning Edition. His reporting focuses on the future of the economy, financial and labor markets, technology, the environment and social enterprises.

Patricia Mulroy is a senior fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program of the Brookings Institution. In addition, she serves as the senior fellow for climate adaptation and environmental policy at UNLV’s Brookings Mountain West. She previously served as the general manager for the Southern Nevada Water Authority.

Professor Upmanu Lall is director of the Columbia Water Center, a unit of the Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Lall has over 33 years of experience in statistical and numerical modeling of hydrologic and climatic systems, and water resource planning and management.

Jeff Hughes is the Director of the Environmental Finance Center at UNC. Jeff works with local governments, not for profit organizations, and private companies to identify and implement innovative methods of financing and maintaining environmental facilities and programs. Jeff has worked extensively overseas as an environmental finance specialist with the Research Triangle Institute, providing technical support and training assistance to local and national governments throughout Eastern Europe and Africa.

Diane VanDe Hei is Executive Director of the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA). AMWA repesents the nation’s largest drinking water system serving drinking water to over 110 million people. Diane has held this post since 1990 and leads the association’s legislative and regulatory efforts and continues to work with others including AMSA in the development of new tools to enhance the competitiveness of the nation’s drinking water and waste water systems.

Previous Town Halls

Circle of Blue and Maestro Conference are at the forefront of virtual, interactive events driving the water, food, energy, and climate discussions.

Underwriters and Thought Partners

The Catalyst series is made possible with the help of these dedicated organizations & media outlets.