Water Reports

Viability Policies and Assessment Methods for Small Water Utilities

June 1992
— Janice A. Beecher, Ph.D., G. Richard Dreese, Ph.D., and James R Landers

The proliferation of nonviable small water systems may not be the most prominent issue on the regulatory agenda at large, but it probably is the most pressing issue with respect to the regulation of water utilities. Public policies in this area can be distinguished in terms of whether they target proliferation (the birth ofsystems) or viability (the survival ofsystems), although many policies actually address both problems at once. Based on the empirical evidence, proliferation (that is, growth in the number of systems) may not be as pervasive a problem today as might be assumed. The decline in the investor-owned water utility population can partly be attributed to economic factors, but the role ofstate policy in contributing to this trend may be equally relevant. Still, controlling the emergence of water systems is perhaps the most essential of all viability policies; without nonproliferation policies the task of improving viability is made much harder. This research endeavor has shown that performance assessment methods can play a role in developing viability policies for water utilities. Read More ›