Ernst & Young Global Cleantech Center releases new report that highlights emerging trends and proposes steps to revitalize the US water sector

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Mounting water sector challenges require proactive change

The Ernst & Young Global Cleantech Center today released a whitepaper that proposes a ten-point action agenda for addressing critical water infrastructure and sustainability issues in the US. The new report – The US water sector on the verge of transformation- analyzes the challenges converging to compel change in the US water sector, highlights emerging trends and offers a series of proactive steps that water industry stakeholders should consider to help establish long-term sustainability and growth in the sector.

Water scarcity, aging infrastructure, climate volatility, water quality issues and rising water-related energy risks are increasing the need for action in the US water sector. Decaying infrastructure and the related funding gap remain unresolved. Hopes for the US water sector to produce "blue-gold"-like investment returns are damped by market structure growth constraints and major barriers to entry for innovators.

“In the US, water experts have been pointing to necessary changes for decades, but progress has been limited,” said Gil Forer, Global Cleantech leader. “Given the crucial nature of water sustainability and resource efficiency, it is imperative to address the sector's structural challenges. To realize the great economic and environmental potential of the sector, we must bring together key water stakeholders as well as catalyze new investments in water infrastructure, promote adoption of innovative technologies and encourage fresh approaches."

The report notes that fact-based leadership can help bridge differences and bring stakeholders together to support market reforms. “We need more quantitative transparency regarding water scarcity, allocation and true costs to overcome the inertia regarding the need to innovate water systems across the US. Capital needs and costs can be better addressed by aligning best practices in financial planning, asset management and water audits with organizational design and field operations” said Eylon Javetz of Simul Consulting Corp., with whom the report was written.

The action agenda calls for the following key initiatives:

1.    Develop the data and transparency practices needed to establish consistent, comprehensive pricing models that reflect the true economic value of water to attract investment and promote a better balance of interests among users.
2.    Improve quantitative management by establishing common terminology standards and comparable metrics for water disclosure and footprinting.
3.    Consider the opportunity to bring new capital, dynamism and efficiencies to the water sector through private equity-driven consolidation.
4.    Spur the development of public-private and public-public partnerships to help close the water funding gap by bringing globally established best practices to the US market.
5.    Strengthen the water innovation ecosystem by establishing industry frameworks for assessing and adopting new technologies.
6.    Open up conservative utility bidding procedures and update building codes to allow for procurement of efficient cutting-edge equipment and technologies.
7.    Encourage innovation and competition in serving water systems by providing incentives for consultant rotation, independent advice and transparent bidding processes.
8.    Expand the decoupling of regulated utility revenues from water consumption to enable investments in conservation and efficiency, especially in water-stressed regions.
9.    Consider more closely long-term capital expenditure needs and water source availability, as well as the traditional financial indicators, in the formulation of water utility bond ratings.
10.     Convene the various institutions with oversight on water to set a coherent national water agenda, one that includes efficiency goals, upon which updated regulations and implementation mechanisms would be based.

"To achieve a transformation in the US, we must build wide support for what is a politically and economically charged endeavor,” added Forer. “Mobilizing stakeholders to support new investment and structural reforms will require more forceful communication of the challenges, action plan and anticipated results."

To find out more about the US water sector and to download the report visit http://www.ey.com/GL/en/Industries/Cleantech/The-US-water-sector-on-the-verge-of-transformation.

About Ernst & Young’s Global Cleantech Center
From start-ups to large corporations to national governments, organizations worldwide are embracing cleantech as an engine of growth, efficiency, sustainability and competitive advantage. As cleantech enables the transformation of a variety of industries to be part of a more resource-efficient and low-carbon economy, we see innovation in technology, business models, financing mechanisms, cross-industry partnerships and corporate adoption.

What gives us a unique perspective and point-of-view in this expanding global market, which is expected to exceed $2 trillion in the next eight years, is our global cleantech center and experienced network.

Whether you are an innovator seeking fresh sources of capital investment to drive scalable growth, a developer looking for guidance on large-scale renewable energy projects or a global corporation trying to gain entry into new markets, our Global Cleantech Center can help make the most of the growing opportunities in the cleantech marketplace.

Find out more about the Global Cleantech Center at: http://www.ey.com/cleantech.

About Ernst & Young
Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 167,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve their potential.

Ernst & Young refers to the global organization of member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients.

This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young LLP, a US client-serving member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.

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Lauren Condoluci
Ernst & Young U.S. LLP
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