The effect of dire funding issues and failing water systems, like the power of water itself, is slowly changing the face of the P3 water infrastructure market in the United States.
Of all the infrastructure sectors in the United States begging for private investment, water stands out. Traditional models of financing and operating water systems across the country seem to have run their course. Decades of mismanagement coupled with shrinking sources of federal and state financing have left public utilities so far behind, it is hard to imagine how many will deliver reliable water services in the future. But, so far, public-private partnerships (P3s) have been employed only sparingly.
P3s of all types face an uphill battle, of course, but water deals have been doubly tough to execute. Wary, or outright hostile, public entities have argued that water is too basic and too important to trust to the private market. In some cases, the private market has also been reluctant, ins