| AWWA survey: Infrastructure, financing and supply top challenges
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AWWA survey: Infrastructure, financing and supply top challenges

Participants in the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA) latest annual survey ranked the top issues facing the water community as infrastructure renewal and replacement, capital improvement financing, and long-term drinking water supply.

Now Available State of the Water Industry '22This year’s ranking of the top 20 issues is detailed in AWWA’s 2022 State of the Water Industry (SOTWI) report, available now. The report summarizes results from a survey conducted between October and December 2021.

“I am confident that the challenges facing our water community will be solved through collaboration, research, technology and policy,” said AWWA President Joe Jacangelo. “Further, increased investment in water infrastructure will help drive progress, attract skilled and diverse workers, and increase public awareness about the value of water services and resources … and above all, protect public health.”

Another top issue identified in the survey is the sector’s aging workforce/anticipated retirements, which jumped in importance to No. 4 from No. 8 in 2021. A related concern is talent attraction and retention, up to No. 11 in 2022 from No. 14 in 2021.

Gwen RuffGwen Ruff, senior vice president of administration and community outreach with Columbus Water Works, said her utility’s recent efforts to manage high levels of employee turnover include expanding recruitment efforts at their local university and technical college, re-evaluating pre-hire certification requirements, holding an on-site job fair, and partnering with the local Fort Benning military installation’s Transition Assistance Program, which offers such opportunities as apprenticeships, on-the-job training and internships. 

“We’ve also implemented an internal, two-tiered leadership development program which includes training on leadership principles, the use of 360 evaluations for self-awareness, and operational on-site visits to various departments.”

Here are the top 10 issues ranked by latest State of the Water Industry survey participants:

  1. Renewal and replacement of aging water infrastructure
  2. Financing for capital improvements
  3. Long-term drinking water supply availability
  4. Aging workforce/anticipated retirements
  5. Public understanding of the value of water systems/services
  6. Emergency preparedness
  7. Watershed/source water protection
  8. Public understanding of the value of water resources
  9. Groundwater management and overuse
  10. Cybersecurity issues

The full report, as well as a corresponding executive summary, are available on AWWA’s State of the Water Industry resource page.