Dec 21, 2018

Study Compares Water Companies to Government-Run Systems

The study found water companies meet SDWA compliance more than government-run systems

Study investigates drinking water quality from water companies versus the government
Study investigates drinking water quality from water companies versus the government

An analysis of U.S. EPA data from 1982 to 2015 by researchers from University of California Irvine and Columbia University found that community water systems owned by regulated water companies are significantly less likely to violate the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) than water systems owned and run by local governments. A further state-level analysis of EPA data was conducted by Encina Advisors and funded by the National Assn. of Water Companies (NAWC).

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February 2018, found that private ownership of a water system was “significantly associated with higher compliance.” The dataset included the compliance records of 17,900 community water systems from across the U.S.

Flint provides an unfortunate example of how a government-run system was unable to ensure the delivery of safe water to its citizens. As a former state utility regulator, I have seen firsthand the harsh realities of what happens when communities are unable to properly manage their water systems, jeopardizing public health and safety,” said Robert Powelson, CEO and president of NAWC. “The results of this study further confirm that regulated water companies nationwide are doing a better job than their municipal counterparts in delivering the highest quality water possible.”

Further study provided by Encina Advisors found that water companies have higher rates of SDWA compliance nationally and in each of the four states analyzed: California, Texas, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

“We wanted see how the ownership of water systems impacted drinking water compliance rates in different states,” said Dr. Justin Adams from Encina Advisors. “The data show very clearly that water systems owned by regulated companies strongly outperform water systems owned and run by local governments on Safe Drinking Water Act compliance.”

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