It’s Not Business As Normal!

tough_decisionsEven if at the time you read this post quarantine restrictions have been loosened, it is likely that the unprecedented shut down of the nation’s economy is going to have lingering effects on all our businesses for some time to come and may change some of the ways we do things forever.  That is mighty scary stuff for sure.  Budgets are being cut all over and it even affects those of us in the water supply sector.  The American Water Works Association estimates that water utilities will take an economic hit of over $30 billion, with these utilities having to scale back projects by as much as $5 billion on an annualized basis.  This does not bode well for businesses that support this sector of the economy.

The good news is that water utilities are an essential service and must continue to operate.  That means that projects will continue to move forward, albeit at lower rates of investment or emphasis will shift to projects that require lower rates of capital investment for the present time.  For nimble companies that provide support to the water sector, this will mean a shift to more critical maintenance and asset management projects – maybe even some that have been on the backburner due to larger, more capital-intensive projects taking up all the time and budget.  That may shift now as things get sorted out.  For instance, a new well or storage tank may get pushed back because of budget shortfalls, but smaller maintenance-type projects may move to the forefront with the reduced budgets many water utilities are facing.  This is actually a good thing because we can show that deferred maintenance is a much more expensive option than an investment in routine maintenance conducted on a regular basis.  The smaller budgets that many utilities are facing may actually force them to concentrate on a lot of deferred maintenance tasks.

The selling point, of course, is how we can extend the life of a water supply well, which is an expensive asset, at the lowest possible cost.  This is proper asset management, plain and simple.

These types of relatively low-cost maintenance projects, as related to wells, includes a lot of things we have been talking about in this blog:

  • Well rehabilitation
  • Well maintenance
  • Video surveys
  • Pump repairs, maintenance, and overhauls
  • Well health check (testing physical, chemical and biological conditions of the well)

For businesses supporting water utilities, this represents a pivot point that we must make to both support our own businesses, but also perform vital services – ones that often get deferred – to the utilities themselves.  These are challenging times indeed, but with the right strategy and focus, it can be the proverbial win-win for those willing to make the shift.

Thomas Ballard

Thomas E. Ballard, aka “The Groundwater Guy” is a consulting hydrogeologist with over 35 years experience. He is a registered Professional Geologist in California and Tennessee and Certified Hydrogeologist in California. His work focuses mainly on water resources development for small water districts and groundwater contamination issues.

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