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AWWA survey: Optimism prevails in resilient water sector

AWWA chart showing optimism ratingsDespite the global COVID-19 pandemic and a series of extreme weather events, American Water Works Association (AWWA) members and water sector partners indicated their highest level of optimism about the health of the water sector in 17 years in a recent survey.

AWWA’s State of the Water Industry survey, conducted between September and November 2020, asked utility and non-utility participants from the United States and Canada to rate the current health of the water industry on a 1-7 scale, with 1 “not at all sound” and 7 “very sound.” Responses averaged 5.24, the fourth consecutive increase and most optimistic response since a low of 4.34 in 2017.

Complete survey results are available in the newly-released 2021 AWWA State of the Water Industry Report and accompanying Executive Summary, both available on the Association’s website. 

As water professionals persevered through the past year’s unprecedented challenges, they maintained their commitment to deliver safe, reliable water and sanitation services to the public through problem solving and innovation. 

Melissa Elliott, AWWA immediate past president“The pandemic and the response to natural disasters in many regions inspired us to shake off the ‘we have always done it that way’ mentality,” said Melissa Elliott (pictured right), AWWA’s immediate past president. “In some ways, we’ve leapt 10 years ahead of where we might have been. … We’ve always been resilient, but what the last year reinforced is that we are adaptable too, and that’s a pretty unbeatable combination.”

For example, early in the pandemic, Des Moines Water Works implemented round-the-clock response planning and execution to maintain full capacity operations, said Ted Corrigan (pictured below), CEO and general manager of the utility. 

Ted Corrigan“This included being one of the country’s first utilities to sequester personnel in campers on-site to ensure their health and the continued flow of drinking water to the public,” he said. “We updated our plan daily in response to new science and unforeseen challenges.”

David LaFrance, AWWA CEO, said he attributes the annual survey’s continuing upward trend in optimism to the water sector’s ability to “accumulate knowledge and experience to solve modern-day water challenges.”

“This year’s continuing upward trend – especially during a pandemic – reinforces this theory and demonstrates the growing confidence in our ability to work together on solutions,” he added. “We know we can support a better world through better water.”

More information is available on AWWA’s State of the Water Industry resource page.
 

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