Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Billions needed to upgrade America’s leaky water infrastructure - The Washington Post

Billions needed to upgrade America’s leaky water infrastructure - The Washington Post
Rapidly deteriorating roads and bridges may stifle America’s economy and turn transportation headaches into nightmares, but if the nation’s water and sewer systems begin to fail, life as we know it will too. Without an ample supply of water, people don’t drink, toilets don’t flush, factories don’t operate, offices shut down and fires go unchecked. When sewage systems fail, cities can’t function and epidemics break out.

“All the big cities have these problems, and to me it’s the unseen catastrophe,” Hawkins said. “My humble view is that the industry we’re in is the bedrock of civilization because it’s not just an infrastructure that is a convenience, that allows you to get to work faster or slower. At least with bridges or a road, people have some idea of what it is because they drive on them and see them. ”

And just like roads and bridges, the vast majority of the country’s water systems are in urgent need of repair and replacement. At a Senate hearing last month, it was estimated that, on average, 25 percent of drinking water leaks from water system pipes before reaching the faucet. The same committee was told it will take $335 billion to resurrect water systems and $300 billion to fix sewer systems.

You know, don't you, what will happen? Wall Street will offer creative ways to finance these repairs, which will end up costing ten times what they should. Ask Jefferson County, Alabama.


Joe West said...

You know what's almost as scary? Very few reserve studies for associations investigate the underground infrastructure of water/sewer lines, electrical grid, gas lines, etc. They deteriorate like anything else, but rarely get any real consideration. Everybody wants to "kick the can down the road". I think it goes with being elected to anything, you don't want costs raised on your watch.

Anonymous said...

The problem with reserve studies is that they are a pretextual report for the purposes of generating more revenues for the HOA attorneys and HOA management companies.

Invariably, the study will show that there are insufficient reserves. This results in a push by the management companies for "higher assessments". The management companies, of course, are placing the funds in management company operating accounts - not HOA accounts. In addition, the additional assessments create financial hardships and therefore an opportunity for "late fees", "collection fees", "payment plan fees", etc. Should the homeowner become delayed in paying the higher assessments, its an automatic opportunity for the HOA attorney to demand $300-$600 for a single letter. The HOA attorney and management company then engage in a fee pyramiding scheme for mutual profit to the detriment of their client HOA and its members.

The conduct will invariably promote a dispute - the legal fees for the HOA will of course be drawn from the "reserve" funds. The knowledge that a large amount is stockpiled only drives the HOA industry to come up with more creative ways of divesting it from the homeowners and HOA.

The solutions proposed by the state inevitably fail when the solution is further privatization.

Anonymous said...

The problems that arise from privatization are exacerbated - not cured - by "solutions" that promote further privatization.