Insights

What I want to hear at the American Water Summit

The US water market has become pretty perplexing this year. There is a lot going on, but in contradictory directions. On the one hand, the official statistics on market spend look extremely grim, but on the other hand, traded companies are reporting pretty buoyant results. We have seen a return to fashion of water pure-plays on the equipment side (with Evoqua’s...

Six thoughts from Amsterdam International Water Week

1) Floods are the new droughts: Five years ago, the big conversation around water was about scarcity. It reflected a broader vision of the world in which growing the economy in the face of resource constraints (as evidenced by $100-a-barrel oil) was the central challenge. Today when people talk about climate change, it is the flooding side of extreme weather that gets...

Mea culpa but drought doesn’t drive the desal market

I was in São Paulo last week for the IDA World Congress. The desalination market still has a long way to go before it has a smile on its face. The combination of too little work and too much competition doesn’t spread much happiness – especially when you are holed up in a dislocated conference centre 2,000 miles away from the nearest decent desal...

Explaining cognitive dissonance in Chicago

WEFTEC was a bit of a surprise this year. Pretty much everyone I met was feeling upbeat, despite what I reported last week about the US Census Bureau’s Value of Construction Put in Place (VIP) survey showing that water capex was down 23% and wastewater/waste capex down 26% over the past two years.

There are a number of different explanations as to why the mood at...

The 20 most urgent questions for US water in 2018

Next week I will be in Chicago for WEFTEC, which is the big wastewater trade show serving the North American market. I don’t expect to see too many happy faces. According to the latest (July 2017) US Census Bureau data, spending on wastewater infrastructure has fallen by 27% over the past two years. Water spending is down 23%. Six months ago, you could describe...

Where's the money in Hurricane Harvey's wake?

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston last week, he posed an interesting question for the water industry: what kind of opportunity is there in these extreme weather events? I have been hearing a lot of answers over the past week, but there are two big obstacles to stormwater management becoming a strong growth market.

First, there is no business model for funding...