Farm Factor – David LaFrance with American Water Works Association – January 10, 2017

(Jamie) Welcome to Farm Factor! First Kyle and David LaFrance discuss how the American Water Works Association finds ways to help manage the many competing demands for water.
(Kyle Bauer) Hi, this is Kyle Bauer with David LaFrance with the American Water Works Association, he’s the CEO. David, explain to me who the American Water Works Association is? (David LaFrance) The American Water Works Association is the oldest and largest water association in the world. Our members tend to be water utilities, the people who serve you drinking water every single day along with the consultants and the manufacturers who help support those water utilities. (Kyle) As a person from agriculture, I think most people in agriculture understand that agriculture is a huge user of water across the entire nation and certainly out here on the plains, we are by far the largest. I assume there’s times when agriculture comes at water from a competitive standpoint to utilities. (David) Agriculture, power, and municipal uses are the three largest uses of water, so there is always the sharing of water that’s necessary and finding ways to manage all the purposes of water amongst all the competing demands for water. (Kyle) Almost everywhere in the world and certainly we see it more every day, water is a limited resource, but out here we have “first in time, first in right” as far as it determines who gets the water and sometimes that can be a situation that has to be managed by a public water source. (David) Water is a fixed finite resource, we’re not making any more of it. The prior appropriations doctrine which allows for water to be treated like a property right and be sold does help facilitate getting water to those who need it the most because they’re willing to pay for it the most. It also protects those who have the rights to use the water for their beneficial purposes. (Kyle) Certainly for agriculture then, being a property right, it is actually a valuable resource. (David) It is a valuable resource in both directions. It could be a sold asset or it could be an asset that helps protect other assets that a farmer or a rancher may have. (Kyle) Let’s face it, in most points a municipality can recoup the cost of a finite resource more than agriculture can most of the time. Let’s talk about how many people your members serve. (David) The American Water Works Association serves about 50,000 members; interestingly there are about 52,000 community water systems in the US serving the greater population. The interesting statistic about that is that about eight percent of the water utilities out there are large water utilities serving about 80% of the population whereas about 80% of the water utilities are serving smaller populations, serving approximately eight percent of the US population. (Kyle) When you get down to that eight percent, that talks about rural for the most part. (David) Yes, that would be more of our rural communities in the US. (Kyle) Really, 80% of your members come from rural areas where we are talking about agriculture using a large amount of the water, so we’re really talking about serving the areas close to their own communities. (David) Yes, those would be the municipal water systems in those rural communities serving the agricultural farmers and ranchers. (Kyle) We’re talking with David LaFrance, he is the CEO of the American Water Works Association, and this is Kyle Bauer reporting.
(Jamie) Folks come back after these messages for this week’s Kansas Soybean Update.

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