The water and wastewater industry in the United States is evolving due to evaporating funds, system failure, increased pressure on natural resources and strict regulations. Alternate methods of financing, design and project delivery provide engineering and construction firms with new opportunities.

As the estimated $20 billion shortfall in water and wastewater infrastructure investment gains a foothold at a national level, the industry remains a sleeper. Total U.S. water supply construction put in place has grown from $7.6 billion in 1999 to $16.6 billion in 2009. It is expected to grow to $20.2 billion by 2013. The total U.S. wastewater construction market has more than tripled in size over the last decade, from $3.2 billion in 1999 to $10.3 billion in 2009.

The responsibility is on innovative engineering and construction firms to offer solutions to problems that have dogged the industry, and the legislation that supports it, for years. Design-build and construction management at-risk project delivery now represents about 20 percent to 30 percent of all U.S. water and wastewater projects. The business management consulting firm FMI expects these numbers to shift toward design-build and other alternative delivery methods as municipalities are forced to find new ways to deliver projects faster, cheaper and more efficiently in order to meet stringent consent decrees, while operating within limited budgets.