“If you don’t
Voorhees, New Jersey, USA
Voorhees, New Jersey. Larger utilities like American Water benefit from having the resources to
invest in projects—and the project managers to
ensure successful planning and execution.
The organization has a five- to 10-year project
roadmap that prioritizes regulatory compliance
and customer reliability projects. “That drives the
vast majority of our project decision-making,”
Mr. Strauss says. Building a project roadmap is a
fairly common process for large utilities that need
to align their regulatory compliance, upgrade and
maintenance projects with anticipated budgets.
Smaller utilities often lack the resources and strategic planning expertise to plan far in advance.
Because his team is accountable to customers
and the state regulatory commission for capital
expenditures, it has to be vigilant about meeting
budget and schedule goals on all projects, from
leak fixes to major new infrastructure. This is
especially true when a project is tied to a water
price increase. In those cases, Mr. Strauss’ team
has to develop a strategic plan that describes all
year in upgrades, in exchange for a 40-year lease
to operate and maintain the water and wastewa-
ter system. Early projects include cleanings and
inspections via remote video cameras of water and
sewer mains, and installation of new water meters
to expedite the discovery and repair of leaks.
But compared to other parts of the world, PPPs
remain fairly novel in the U.S. That means most
municipalities will keep waiting for WIFIA or other
funds to arrive. If they do secure federal financing,
Ms. Leiby emphasizes the importance of detailed
planning and reporting on how funds are spent.
“There will likely be a lot of scrutiny for projects
that do receive funding,” she says. “Careful reporting will be key.”
Planning at Scale
In terms of both capital project funding and execu-
tion, it helps to be a larger water utility, says Mark
Strauss, senior vice president of corporate strategy
for American Water, an investor-owned U.S. water
and wastewater utility company headquartered in
Above It All
The world’s largest aircraft is prepared for takeoff.
n The Airlander 10 was originally developed
as a surveillance craft by the U.S. Army.
n After plowing US$154 million into
the project, however, the organization
abandoned the project in 2013.
n It was designed to fly at speeds of 92
miles (148 kilometers) per hour.
n It can stay above ground up to two
n A private equity firm has breathed new
life into the aircraft—with commercial
benefits in mind.
n Commercial test flights began in the
second quarter of 2016.