Experts Agree U.S. Water Infrastructure in Trouble

01/24/2011 01:20 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

CNN recently highlighted America's growing water infrastructure concerns, from dripping pipes and leaking faucets to catastrophic water main breaks. Some are minor, but others wreak havoc on homes, destroying valuables and resulting in major property loss. This is a fact that is all too real for Anita Kramer, and many others like her.

Various infrastructure problems trouble water system managers across the country -- it doesn't matter if they're working in the public or the private sector -- which is why our country's water ills will only be remedied with a positive joint partnership. When municipalities work in tandem with private water service providers, the end result is likely to be more efficient, transparent and a better value for the customer.

The CATO Institute's Randal O'Toole suggests money to improve our infrastructure should come from user fees, not the government. Critics of water privatization often claim that private investment in water infrastructure is somehow bad for American communities, resulting in raised prices and system upgrade delays. The truth is, private water companies do not set water rates -- rather, they collaborate with municipalities to determine rates and to deliver value and long-term savings to customers.

While it's true that consumers might see a rate increase when a private/public sector partnership begins, these increases are often a result of cities realizing they're long overdue in making needed investments in their water system to ensure they continue to provide environmental and public health protection to their community while operating in an efficient and innovative manner. These increases support upgrades that would likely never have been made without the private sector's collaboration, and if gone unchecked, would be expected to result in continued infrastructure issues.

As I've said before, most consumers have the monetary resources to spend a little more each month to upgrade their local water system. Not only do consumers have the resources, 63 percent of American voters would be willing to pay more for high-quality water service and delivery. When you consider the status quo, a slight increase in your monthly bill is money well spent to ensure you and your family have access to a clean and reliable water source.

Private water companies are nothing new in this country. In fact, now more than ever, we need significant capital investment in water infrastructure. Investment in water infrastructure will do more than improve the quality of our water and our environment. Infrastructure investment also creates jobs across our communities, supporting thousands of new jobs in the construction sector, food service, healthcare and retail, resulting in community revitalization.

To ensure all Americans continue to have access to safe water, it's very important that we educate our community leaders on the importance of sustainable water infrastructure and the benefits of public and private sector partnerships. This is why we have partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Let's Rebuild America program to launch the Water Is Your Business initiative.

While stories like Anita Kramer are all too familiar, there are great successes in water infrastructure happening every day. A key component of Water Is Your Business is recognizing those local leaders who have heard the call from experts and are dedicated to improving and sustaining water infrastructure in their cities. By recognizing our leaders that are going the extra mile, it's our hope that citizens across the country can learn from and promote solutions that increase overall public and private investment in water infrastructure and more sustainable water management.