| AWWA's State of the Water Industry report reveals source water protection as top priority for water sector
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AWWA's State of the Water Industry report reveals source water protection as top priority for water sector

Protecting water at its source has emerged as the leading concern for the water sector, according to the American Water Works Association's (AWWA) 2024 State of the Water Industry (SOTWI). This marks a notable evolution in priorities, as source water protection surpasses aging infrastructure as the top challenge identified by water professionals. 

The report, based on responses from more than 2,400 water professionals, reflects a growing recognition of the fundamental importance of safeguarding water quality at its origin to ensure the continued availability of safe, affordable and reliable water supplies. 

“If we don’t have safe and reliable sources, we don’t have the ability to support public health,” said AWWA Source Water Protection Committee Chair Raven Lawson. “Just as we recognize threats to aging infrastructure, we now more readily recognize and understand threats to our source waters.” 

This year’s survey showed: 

  • Source Water Protection: 61.3% of utilities are actively implementing or developing source water protection plans.
  • Aging Infrastructure: Remains a top concern, with 81% of utilities implementing capital improvement plans.
  • PFAS Contamination: Ranked as the top water quality concern, driving the need for prevention strategies. 
  • Cybersecurity: A growing threat, with 49% of utilities investing in cybersecurity measures. 
  • Climate Change: Drought, water scarcity, and extreme weather events are increasingly impacting water resources. 
  • Workforce: Attracting and retaining skilled workers is a persistent challenge. 
  • Financial Sustainability: Balancing affordability with infrastructure investment remains a pressing concern, with 73% of utilities planning rate increases. 

“AWWA's water professionals are navigating this complex landscape through collaboration, education and investments in people and technology,” said Pat Kerr, AWWA Immediate Past President. “We are focused on moving water forward to ensure reliable and sustainable access to safe drinking water the world over in 2050 and beyond.” 

Since 2004, 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. 

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

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Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most vital resource. With approximately 50,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.