| Latest State of the Water Industry Report highlights continued optimism, preparedness
AWWA Articles

Latest State of the Water Industry Report highlights continued optimism, preparedness

Despite climate change-related challenges, aging infrastructure, threats to water supply, and other obstacles, the water community is feeling more optimistic and prepared to manage major issues and improve water operations, according to the most recent survey conducted by the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

2023 Optimism Score: 5 out of 7AWWA annually publishes a 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. This year’s report highlights a six-year trend – apart from 2021 – of increasing optimism, with survey participants ranking their optimism about the health of the water sector at 5.0 on a scale of 1 to 7.

As in past years, survey participants ranked the top issues facing the water community as rehabilitation and replacement of aging water infrastructure, long-term drinking water supply availability, and financing for capital improvements. As utilities work toward more resilient, sustainable systems and operations, utility personnel are feeling more prepared about their ability to meet long-term water supply needs (54.7% say they are either very prepared or fully prepared and 29.5% are moderately prepared).  

Utilities also signaled that they are better prepared for challenges, with 88% of respondents indicating they have implemented or are in the process of implementing emergency response plans, and 60% saying they have implemented or are considering implementing a climate action plan.

This year’s ranking of the top 20 issues is detailed in AWWA’s 2023 State of the Water Industry (SOTWI) report and Executive Summary, available now. The report summarizes results from a survey conducted between October and November 2022. The 2023 report marks the 20th edition of the survey and captures feedback from 4,123 North American water professionals, the highest response rate in the history of the survey.

David LaFrance“AWWA members always amaze me," said David LaFrance, AWWA CEO. "It seems like the harder the challenges get, the more confident and optimistic our members become. It’s clear there are some significant hurdles in front of us – from infrastructure replacement to resource challenges to new contaminants to cybersecurity concerns – but water professionals never blink, they simply find ways to solve the problems in front of them and keep providing the world's most vital resource to their communities."

The 2023 report provides insight into topics including renewal and replacement of infrastructure, technology needs, capital improvement project trends, capital improvement financing, and more.

An executive summary provides a snapshot, and the full report includes additional material such as analysis, charts, graphs, and a ranking of issues facing the water sector in 2023.

Jessica Fritsche“Planning for clean, reliable and affordable water supplies has become increasingly complex, and the future threatens to be even more uncertain," said Jessica Fritsche, senior water resource planner, Carollo Engineers. "Our approaches to planning and management must continue to evolve to face modern day challenges. Fortunately, the industry is ripe with the brilliance, passion and dedication needed to drive meaningful change."

This year’s survey also showed:

  • Public understanding of the value of water resources is a top five issue
  • Most utilities offer affordability programs to assist lower income households
  • Utilities are developing organizational diversity programs and training
  • PFAS and point source pollution are the top compliance challenges

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