Investment in new drinking water projects in North America

McIlvaine suggests that the treatment requirements make up only 22% of the total investment in projects, with the rest of the money invested in new plants, expansion of existing plants, replacement of obsolete systems and plant upgrading to meet new regulatory requirements.

Large cities in the US with over 100,000 populations are attempting to meet investment needs of  US$5 billion/year whereas medium sized communities have an even larger task. Some of the states with the largest project activity are those with growing populations, thus California has annual project investment needs of US$380 million.

One new project is the Woonsocket Rhode Island plant in the US, where city officials are under state and federal mandates to upgrade the Manville Road Water Treatment plant by March 2013 to eliminate the discharge of filtration pollutants into the Blackstone River and improve the quality of drinking water. Engineers from construction firm Camp Dresser McKee have proposed a $55 million plan that includes dismantling the existing plant and replacing it temporarily with a pipeline allowing the city to buy drinking water from Pawtucket. The city would build a new water treatment plant on the site of the existing one perhaps two years later.

Meanwhile, in Canada, there is still a significant requirement for drinking water despite the much smaller population. Following government cuts in infrastructure funding there is what McIlvaine calls a “municipal infrastructure deficit”, estimated at C$123 billion by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Some communities in the country require money to pay for water pipes and filtration systems, which is now the responsibility of municipal governments, while some councils have started looking to private investors to rebuild infrastructure through public/private partnerships.

The Regina Saskatechewan in Canada will require a capital investment of about US$69 million in water and wastewater treatment this year, while St John’s New Brunswick is moving forward with a 259 million treatment plant.

The Canadian government has also approved 42 low-cost infrastructure loans for more than US$192 million to 11 different municipalities throughout the Province of Ontario as part of the country’s economic action plan.