Water & Sewer Utilities
Companies in this industry operate water treatment and water supply systems; sewer systems and sewage treatment facilities; and steam and air-conditioning supply systems. Major companies include American Water Works, Aqua America, and California Water Service (all based in the US), along with France-based global giants SUEZ and Veolia Environnement, Brazil's SABESP, and the UK's Thames Water.
Though public utilities dominate, competition among private water management companies takes place in major markets in Europe, Asia, Australia, and the Americas. Global water and wastewater expenditures by utilities and industrial users is expected to grow from $770 billion in 2018 to some $915 billion in 2023, according to Global Water Intelligence. The world's population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2040, and water demand is growing at twice the rate of the global population.
The US commercial water and sewer utilities industry includes about 4,800 establishments (single-location companies and units of multi-location companies) with combined annual revenue of about $15 billion. The commercial industry is small compared to the water and sewer services operated by many regional and local governments in the US. Government-owned water and sewer utility services have annual revenue of about $118 billion.
Demand depends on commercial and residential water needs, which are related to population growth and to the level of economic activity. The profitability of individual companies depends on efficiency of operations, because prices are fixed by public utility commissions (PUCs). Large companies have economies of scale in operations and the ability to raise capital for infrastructure improvements. Small companies can compete successfully through superior engineering or by serving desirable local markets. The US industry is concentrated: the 50 largest companies account for about 75% of industry revenue.
High barriers to entry, such as capital investments, make the industry resistant to competition; many companies operate as de facto monopolies. The cost of constructing a new water and wastewater system in an existing market is high, and regulatory approval must be secured. Utilities may face competition from industrial customers supplying their own water.
Products, Operations & Technology
Water services account for about 70% of US industry revenue, sewer services for about 10%. Steam supply, irrigation, and other services account for the
Sales & Marketing
Finance & Regulation
Regional & International Issues
Also includes the following chapters:
Quarterly Industry Update
Trends and Opportunities
Call Preparation Questions
Glossary of Acronyms