Water Industry Trends in the Southern USA
This blog series examines major trends and newsworthy events that occurred in the US water industry during the second quarter of 2017.
The first part of the series focuses on activity within the Southwest and West regions of the US. Check back tomorrow for part two of the series, which will cover the New England, Mid-Atlantic, and South regions of the US.
The Southwest region consists of Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.
- Between the first and second quarters of 2017, the Southwest region experienced a significant increase in the total number of available bids and projects as requests for infrastructure improvements and associated equipment, parts, and materials continued to dominate the region. The largest demand in these areas was in Texas, followed by Arizona and New Mexico.
- Texas also represented the greatest demand for stormwater projects in the Southwest during the second quarter of 2017. In general, there was a considerable need for flood protection work, drainage improvements, and erosion control projects across the state. For example, high stormwater levels in the City of Tyler led to flooding that caused damage to sewage pipes, culverts, and headwalls.
- During the second quarter of 2017, water scarcity issues were prevalent in Arizona due to sustained watershed drought, lower water levels in Lake Mead, and overallocation of the Colorado River’s water supplies. As the threat of water shortage conditions persists in Arizona, a number of cities, including the City of Peoria, are evaluating and compiling a range of immediate measures and long- term procedures for dealing with the chronic strain on the state’s water supplies.
- New Mexico, which is still recovering from extreme drought conditions that peaked in 2013, also faced potential statewide shortages in drinking and irrigation water supplies in the second quarter of 2017. State water managers cite increased demand, variability in rainfall levels, limited supply from groundwater pumping, the rapid depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, and a lack of alternative fresh water sources along the New Mexico-Texas border as main factors contributing to the growing possibility of water shortages in New Mexico.
- In March 2017, Newfield Exploration Company began construction on a wastewater recycling facility in Kingfisher County, Oklahoma to supplement the company’s supply of water for hydraulic fracturing operations. This is just one example of an emerging shift among oil and natural gas companies towards investing in wastewater recycling and reuse as an alternative to traditional wastewater disposal procedures.
The West region consists of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
- In the second quarter of 2017, the largest demand for planning, design, and consulting services across the US was seen in the West region, of which California accounted for nearly two-thirds of the region’s total demand. Opportunities within the state included the inspection of spillways and levees, response strategies for water supply vulnerabilities, and seawall resiliency designs.
- Acidified ocean water is a growing threat to the West Coast of the U.S. due to atmospheric carbon dioxide. The acidified water is proving hazardous to small organisms along tidepools and near-shore habitats in California, as well as to Washington's $270-million-a-year shellfish industry. According to researchers, maintaining healthy kelp beds and sea grasses and managing already acidified areas may help mitigate the effects and improve the adaptability of the ecosystem.
- Sea-level rise caused by melting ices sheets in Antarctica threatens California’s coast more severely than the global average. The potential for a 10-foot rise in sea level is dictating long-term planning in an effort to protect vulnerable infrastructure including drinking water systems, and prevent further beach erosion.
- In June 2017, Hawaii became the first state to pass a law implementing parts of the Paris climate agreement, despite the withdrawal of the U.S. as a whole. The islands have witnessed climate change directly through higher tides, coastal erosion, and dwindling biodiversity. The state is dedicated to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating further environmental damage. Shortly after Hawaii’s commitment nine other states, including California, Washington, and Oregon, joined Hawaii in the alliance.