The Future of Water Utilities: Exciting and Unfunded

Hello, and welcome to another episode of our environmental policy podcast, Parts Per Billion. This is where we chat with reporters and newsmakers to bring you the stories behind our stories.

Today we bring you the first of a two-part conversation between George Hawkins, head of the local water utility here in Washington, and Bloomberg BNA water policy reporter Amena Saiyid.

Hawkins is known within the world of water utilities as an ideas man, someone constantly trying to come up with new ways of delivering drinking water and disposing of wastewater. (Or, more recently, taking that wastewater and recycling it into something useful.)

But Hawkins also constantly finds himself torn between the future, the present and the past: he needs to balance his progressive ideas with the need to meet mandatory pollution prevention goals and also upgrade infrastructure in his city that is now decades, and in some cases, centuries old.

Where will the money come from to achieve all of this?

Hawkins talked about the financial pressures he and other big-city water utilities are facing and why these pressures mean utilities have to be really good at communicating with businesses and homeowners about their water bills.

Check back in with Parts Per Billion two weeks from today, when we’ll share the second part of our conversation with Hawkins. He addresses the ongoing water quality crisis in Flint., Mich., and talks about some new monitoring technologies that may help prevent another crisis like this from happening again.

You can read more of Amena’s reporting on water policy at our blog and in our publication Daily Environment Report. If you liked what you heard in the podcast, sign up for a free trial.

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