AWWA’s 2023 State of the Water Industry reports sector optimism on the rise

Mike Edwards   

Features AWWA North America optimism report State of the Water Industry water sector

Despite climate change-related challenges, aging infrastructure, threats to water supply, and other obstacles, water sector optimism and preparedness is on the rise, according to the newly published AWWA’s 2023 State of the Water Industry report, which is available to download for free.

The 2023 report provides insight into top issues facing the water sector such as aging infrastructure, how utilities are addressing technology needs, which kinds of capital improvement projects are most prevalent, how utilities are financing projects and more. Read the executive summary for a snapshot or explore the full report to view additional material, including analysis, charts, graphs and a full ranking of the top 20 issues facing the water sector in 2023.

This year’s survey showed:

  • Optimism is on the rise among water professionals
  • Aging infrastructure and long-term water supply are the top challenges
  • Utilities are prioritizing emergency preparedness
  • Public understanding of the value of water resources is a rising issue
  • Most utilities offer affordability programs to assist lower income households
  • Utilities are developing organizational diversity programs and training
  • PFAS and point source pollution are the top compliance challenges

Since 2004, the Denver-based AWWA has published the annual State of the Water Industry report based on survey results to help water utilities, service providers, regulators and researchers identify and prepare for challenges, opportunities and trends impacting the water community. This year’s report, which was sponsored by Westlake Pipe & Fittings, marks the 20th edition of the survey.

Long-term drinking water supply availability, financing capital improvements and watershed/source water protection are among the top-ranked issues facing the water sector in 2023. However, as utilities work towards more resilient, sustainable systems and operations, utility personnel are feeling more prepared about their ability to meet long-term water supply needs (54.7% are either very prepared or fully prepared and 29.5% are moderately prepared). Utilities also signaled that they are prepared for both standard and climate related risks, with 88% of respondents indicating they have implemented or are in the process of implementing emergency response plans and 60% have implemented or are considering implementing a climate action plan.

“AWWA members always amaze me,” said AWWA CEO David LaFrance. “It seems like the harder the challenges get, the more confident and optimistic our members become. It’s clear there are some significant hurdles in front of us – from infrastructure replacement to resource challenges to new contaminants to cybersecurity concerns – but water professionals never blink, they simply find ways to solve the problems in front of them and keep providing the world’s most vital resource to their communities.”

This year’s report captured feedback from 4,123 North American water professionals who were surveyed between October and November 2022, the highest response rate in the history of the survey.

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