Tom Roberts, president and chief operating officer of Aqua North Carolina, a subsidiary of Aqua America, said he predicts that ownership of larger municipal water systems by investor-owned utilities will be more likely in the future.
is a publicly traded water and wastewater utility with operations in eight states.
"I think the water industry continues to change nationally and within the state," Roberts
And while Hicks and Roberts
agree that aging water systems will be an incentive for municipalities to privatize, Hicks is uneasy about the trend.
said that investor-owned utilities are often the only option for systems in distress.
"We bring an alternative to the table for systems that may have a big investment necessary to meet regulatory compliance or they want take their asset and sell it to a private utility and take those funds and go do something that is more important to them," he
Aqua North Carolina
may have a small footprint in WNC, but he
said that it could grow.
Among the advantages of a corporate-owned utility, he
said, is the capacity to spread risk over a large statewide customer base and access to financing that may be unavailable to public entities.
While the privatization of large municipal water utilities has yet to take hold in North Carolina, Roberts
said the tide may shift as public operators struggle to keep up with an aging infrastructure with limited resources.