Sara Jerome of Water Online wrote a thought-provoking article on how the political climate in West Virginia is shifting and may result in the deregulation of many public water utilities.
From the point of view of the employees of the utilities, this is a positive outlook.
“Tim Rock, Buckhannon’s sanitary supervisor, described how cumbersome regulations affect his work day. ‘One of the major issues with the over-regulation of public water utilities in West Virginia is the state Public Service Commission does not permit public utilities to keep funds on-hand to address problems, he said,’ according to the Inter-Mountian report.”
According to the article, even the West Virginia Rural Water Association and other groups are advocating for fewer regulations for water utilities.
This issue is much debated between political adversaries, but all politics aside, how would the deregulation of these utilities affect the long-term management of important state infrastructure?
When doing water utilities infrastructure management it is often regulations that set the baseline of service levels that are required to be delivered.
A change in regulation, therefore, changes base service levels and associated long-term costs of delivering those service levels.
Water utility infrastructure is a natural monopoly, and as such will always face some degree of regulation. The amount and type of regulation will be the subject of on-going political debate.