Merging to Meet Demand
Neda Simeonova

It’s no secret that small water systems face big challenges. Diminishing state and federal funding options, combined with swelling population has put a lot of stress on small systems that already struggle to meet demand and regulatory challenges, manage water resources, and upgrade aging infrastructure.

To alleviate some of these challenges, a large water company has been acquiring smaller companies that serve rural communities.

According to a recent Associated Press report, Aquarion Water Co. has acquired 57 water systems in Connecticut, many in the western part of the state, during the past 18 months.

Rapidly growing population in the area—up 8% between 2000 and 2010 in the city of Danbury—has elevated the need for more efficient water systems. And former farming communities in the area are now large suburbs with no fire hydrants facing the need to install costly pumping, storage and treatment equipment. Supported by Connecticut regulators, Aquarion has stepped in to buy and consolidate water systems to help meet future population demands.

Over the past 15 years, consolidations have reduced the number of private, investor-owned water companies from 30 to 22 in western Connecticut alone, according to the report. Do you think that consolidation is small systems’ answer to their challenges? E-mail us at wwdeditor@sgcmail.com.

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