By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
LEXINGTON, Ky. — While the quality of roads and bridges is often top of mind for citizens, another critical area of infrastructure often overlooked is water and wastewater. When Kentuckians turn on their tap, they expect good, quality water to come out of their faucet. But a lot of effort goes into making that happen and the state is in need of large investments to provide that level of quality.
Kentucky American Water President and CEO Nick Rowe sat down with The Bottom Line to discuss the improvement needs and initiatives the private company has made across the state to ensure clean drinking water.
According to American Society for Civil Engineers, Kentucky has some work to do regarding water and wastewater investment — $15 billion over 20 years for both water and wastewater.
Kentucky American Water, Rowe said, invests around $25-$35 million in the state’s water and wastewater infrastructure per year to ensure a quality product for their customers and are continuing to look at ways to make more improvements. Legislative initiatives and possibly an infrastructure surcharge are options Rowe says could help make those investments.
Rowe also spoke about the importance of voluntary consolidation in supporting improvements to rural systems across the state. Earlier this year the legislature took up a bill in support of voluntary consolidation that would have allowed interested buyers and sellers to negotiate a purchase price based on the fair market value of the system. Several neighboring states have enacted such legislation, but the bill did not pass which leaves Kentucky at a competitive disadvantage.
Along with the need to provide quality water for the health and wellbeing of all Kentuckians, Rowe also noted that water and wastewater infrastructure investments are critical for economic development as companies look for a location that has sufficient water supply and high quality for employees.
People don’t often see the need to make the investment in water and wastewater infrastructure because most of that infrastructure is underground, Rowe said, whereas we see the crumbling roads and bridges every day. And while many people feel water is free because it flows in the rivers and other places, he pointed to the treatment process needed for it to be consumable and added it is the only utility citizens ingest, making it even more important to “get it right 100% of the time.”
Watch the full interview with Rowe and learn more about what goes into ensuring quality water for Kentuckians at an affordable price in the video below: