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26 June 2017 /
Is Plastic The New Iron for Water Utilities?


Pipe and hardware companies are poised to benefit from heightening concerns about U.S. municipal water infrastructure and $300 billion of forecasted capital expenditures over the next decade. Bluefield Research forecasts that new and replaced pipe and hardware infrastructure will make up more than 57% of municipal utilities’ total capital spend through 2026.

While the public does not want to think, or even know, about the 1.6 million miles of pipes underground, hundreds of thousands of water main breaks and lead-tainted water have begun to put a spotlight on this historically overlooked sector. Often considered a dubious metric by some industry insiders, the fact is that the average age of water pipes continues to climb– from 25 years in 1970 to 45 years in 2020– largely because of underinvestment. There are smarter solutions to better understanding the status of aging pipes, if only utilities and municipalities would take full advantage.

While municipal demand for pipe solutions, is expected to scale going forward, the pipe sector’s material profile, for water and wastewater, is also being reshaped. New spending on pipes is showing the strong preference by utilities and engineering firms for plastic pipes– PVC and HDPE– which account for US$97 billion of the ten-year total. This trend highlights the continued growth of these materials, largely because of cost.

A surge in hydraulic fracturing is only part of the reason. Increased innovation, including techniques to drill faster and generate more production at each well, are leading to shifts exponential improvements. This includes an almost 30% reduction in time to complete a well. At the same time, new suburban construction and tightening municipal budgets are tilting decision-makers toward plastics.

As pipe materials change, so does the highly fragmented supply chain. Companies are expanding their portfolios of pipe technologies and innovative solutions, and in some cases, entering new geographies to capitalize on growth. Leading players JM Eagle, Pipelife and North American Pipe, which are already ranked among the Top 10 suppliers by annual revenues, are positioned for growth.

At the same time, positive signals for increasing demand have sparked M&A activity. Bluefield has tracked 28 acquisitions of pipe companies, totaling US$6.3 billion, since the start of 2016. The most aggressive has been Forterra, a relative newcomer to the market, which has made nine deals over the last three years, placing it just on the outside of the top 10 leading players.

The scale of investment going into upgrading pipe networks is already driving more innovative, smarter solutions to stay ahead of rising costs. Over US$2.7 billion will be directed towards asset condition assessment and pipeline monitoring through 2026, while operating expenditures on leakage management, alone, will total $1 billion through the forecast period.

Replacing water pipes is extremely labor intensive and costly, so utilities will increasingly be forced to look for ways to squeeze costs with more cost-effective materials, installation techniques, such as trenchless technologies, and network analysis. Certainly adoption will take time but innovative solutions are in front of them.

Reese Tisdale is the President of Bluefield Research, a market research and insight firm focused exclusively on supporting companies addressing opportunities in water. Learn more about how Bluefield is helping companies make more informed decisions with data-backed intelligence.

Ian Quin
Project Consultant

Ian is a Project Consultant in Bluefield’s Boston office, where he focuses on analyzing utility Capital Improvement Plans for company strategies and their development of sustainable water practices. Prior to joining Bluefield, Ian researched the progression of renewable energy resources and technology in Iceland through the School for International Training. Additionally, Ian worked with Common Energy as a renewable energy consultant and assisted clients in engaging with community solar projects in Massachusetts. Ian is a graduate of Brandeis University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Environmental Studies.

Isabel Kezman
Research Associate

Isabel Kezman is a Research Associate out of Bluefield’s Boston office, where she focuses on analyzing Capital Improvement Plans and budget trends for municipal water & wastewater utilities. Prior to joining Bluefield, Isabel worked with International Rescue Committee and The Community Climate Collaborative.

She is a candidate for a B.S. in Environmental Sciences and B.A. in Global Security and Justice from the University of Virginia.

Cailey McVay
Research Associate

Cailey McVay is a Research Associate in Bluefield’s Boston office, where she focuses on analyzing State Revolving Funds for municipal water & wastewater markets. Prior to joining Bluefield, Cailey researched the impact of meltwater from climate change on glacial firms through the Earth Science Department at Dartmouth College. Additionally, Cailey worked with BW Research Inc. as a research assistant and assisted with reports on Clean Energy Development for the US Department of Energy. Cailey is a candidate for a Bachelor in Arts degree in Environmental Studies and Economics from Dartmouth College.

John Berryman
Sales Director

John Berryman, Bluefield’s Director of Sales, compliments our team of water industry analysts with years of commercial experience addressing client needs through consultative, relationship-based engagements. Prior to joining Bluefield, John led West Coast Sales for the House of Kooser, for whom he was responsible for helping independent decision-makers for independent hotels develop and strengthen partnerships with corporate and luxury leisure brands. He has also built up years of experience as a Senior Account Executive for YELP, Inc. and in previous roles with Brown & Brown and Standard & Poor’s Rating Services.

John has a Bachelor of Business Administration with a specialization in Finance from American University, Kogod School of Business.

 

Chloé Meyer
Analyst

Chloé Meyer is a Global Water Analyst supporting the Bluefield’s municipal Insight Services and Consulting practice. Chloé brings specialized water experience in governance, transboundary cooperation, and information management to Bluefield’s team. This includes almost five-years experience in project management, with focus on the Mediterranean region.

Prior to joining Bluefield, she worked as a consultant for Italy-based GeoSolutions and was previously a Project Officer for the Groundwater Systems and Settlements Section, Division of Water Sciences, UNESCO-France.

Chloé holds a BA in History with a minor in Geography and a Master in Geography and Water Management from Paris Nanterre University. She is based in Le Pecq, France.

Kelli Talbot
Content Manager

Kelli Talbot has an extensive background in publishing with a track record of overseeing all aspects of production and content management for professional publications ranging from industry reports and magazines to web and marketing content.  As copyeditor, production & content manager, Kelli works with both marketing and research to manage the production of Bluefield Research client deliverables.

Prior to Bluefield Research, Kelli spent ten years abroad in Shanghai and  Barcelona working for international organizations such as The American Women’s Club of Shanghai (head designer), the International Professional Women’s Society (webmaster), and Emerging Energy Research (production & data visualization). Her vast editorial and production experience includes roles at IHS Emerging Energy, MIT Technology Review, and TechTarget.

Maya Aglialoro
Research Associate

Maya Aglialoro is Research Analyst in Bluefield’s Boston office, where she is focused on municipal water & wastewater and global desalination markets. Prior joining Bluefield, Maya worked at Boyer Sudduth Environmental Consultants in Boston and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

She is a candidate for a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Geoscience from Boston College.

Nina Rossiter
Analyst

Nina Aya Rossiter is a Digital Water analyst in Bluefield’s Boston office. Nina has prior experience in project operations at CitizenBlue in Sydney, a waste and recycling management organization. As a graduate from Northeastern University, Nina holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies & International Affairs, with a minor in Chinese. Nina’s also passionate in marine science and has previously volunteered as an educator in the New England Aquarium and Northeastern’s Marine Science Center.

 

Eugenia Acosta
Applied Research Consultant

Eugenia Acosta is an Environmental Engineer focused on Bluefield’s digital water research projects, globally. Prior to her time at Bluefield, Eugenia has worked for the robotics, mining, and transportation industries and in the the public sector on environmental management projects.

Eugenia completed her bachelor’s in Environmental Engineering at the University of Waterloo and Ecole Centrale Paris. She also holds a master’s degree in Water Technology and Management from the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona.

Mariel Marchand
Senior Analyst

Mariel Marchand is a senior analyst in Bluefield’s Boston office where she works primarily with municipal water & wastewater Insight Service clients. More specifically, her research activities focus on investor owned utilities, O&M service providers, and distribution & collection networks. Prior to joining Bluefield, Mariel worked for the Department of Energy Resources as part of the Renewable Energy team and also as an analyst for Bluefield Research during her time in graduate school.

Mariel received her BA in Political Science and a Master in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University.

Nathan Goldstein
Client Experience Manager

Nathan Goldstein leads in Bluefield’s client engagement activities and outreach.  He is based in the Boston office, where he is focused on industrial markets, trends and forecasts. Prior to joining Bluefield, Nathan worked at the Carbon Disclosure Project and the United States Geological Survey. Nathan holds dual bachelor’s degrees from Eckerd College and a Master of Science from King’s College London.

Cullen Mitchell
Analyst

Cullen Mitchell is an analyst in Bluefield’s Boston office, where he is primarily focused on industrial water insights. Cullen began working with Bluefield during his graduate studies, during which time he delivered in-depth analysis of utility capital improvement plans, utility water rates, water company profiles & strategies, and non-revenue water trends. He has also supported the consulting practice with analysis of the U.K. market.

Prior to enrolling at Tufts University as a graduate student in the Institute for the Environment, he served with Americorps and the Southeast Conservation Corps. Cullen has an undergraduate degree from the University of the South, Sewanee and a Master of Science from Tufts University.

Greg Goodwin
Applied Research Consultant

Greg Goodwin is an Applied Research Consultant with several years of experience across the clean technology, industrial operations, and asset-based industries. He most recently worked at LNS Research covering enterprise software developments and implementation strategies across environment, health & safety, manufacturing operations management, and asset performance management research practices. Greg holds a B.A. from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and an M.A. from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.

Eric Bindler
Research Director
Eric Bindler is the Research Director for Bluefield Research’s Digital Water Insight Service. His areas of expertise include digital water technology, company strategy, water finance and investment, and the U.S. municipal utility sector. He also leads the Smart Water Networks Forum (SWAN) Americas Alliance Research Group, for which he was awarded an Outstanding Leadership Award by industry peers and professionals. Eric’s in-depth analysis is often cited in the press, and he is a frequent panelist at global industry and corporate events.
Eric holds an MA in Global Development Policy from Boston University, as well as an MA in Ethnomusicology from Indiana University, and a BA in Music and Anthropology from Rollins College. During his time at Boston University, Eric worked at the Public Works Department in Needham, Massachusetts, consulted on a project for UN Environment’s Climate Change Sub-programme, and served as an author and contributor to Boston University’s 2017 Climate Action Plan Report. He is also a former adjunct professor of anthropology at Rollins College.
Erin Bonney Casey
Research Director

Erin Bonney Casey leads Bluefield’s U.S. & Canada Municipal Water Insight Service and has demonstrated experience across a range of sectors, technology applications, and critical industry topics. Highlighted by more than 100 research reports on topics including wastewater management, water reuse desalination, water affordability, and infrastructure policy & investment, she has proven to be valuable industry resource as a panelist at conferences and corporate board meetings.

Erin has been cited by CBS News, The New York Times, Reuters, and a wide range of industry publications. She has also served on the WateReuse Foundation’s Project Advisory Committee on Current Use and Trends of Reuse in the Hydraulic Fracturing Industry.

Prior to joining Bluefield, Erin worked at Brown Brothers Harriman as a Business Analyst and has international experience with Grameen Research, where she focused on Latin American economies and tax laws. Erin has a BA from Bates College and a Masters from Oxford University in Water Science Policy & Management.

Steph Aldock
Marketing Director

Steph Aldock has extensive background leading B2B marketing for market research and insight firms. She has over 15 years of experience driving go-to-market strategy across the water, energy, chemical, and technology industries.

Prior to Bluefield, Steph served as Product Marketing Director at IHS, leading their platform strategy across industry verticals. Before that, she lead all marketing for Emerging Energy Research, in the renewable energy space. She also worked in Communications and Policy for the Edison Electric Institute in Washington, DC. Steph has a BA in History and Political Science from Macalester College and a Masters in Communications from Johns Hopkins University.

Bill Ambrose is a principal at Stone Silo LLC, an investment and advisory firm specializing in Industry Research and Analysis. He has founded two industry analysis start-ups– Emerging Energy Research, specializing in renewable energy and Pyramid Research, specializing in emerging market telecoms– and has successfully managed their growth to valuation events. Mr. Ambrose received an MBA from Columbia University Graduate School of Business in New York with a concentration in international business, strategy, and industry analysis. He holds a BA in economics and intercultural studies (Africa specialization) from Trinity College, Hartford CT.

Keith Hays
VP & Managing Director

Keith Hays is a seasoned market insight professional with over 15 years’ experience in the telecom, energy, and water sectors as a management consultant and industry analyst. As the point-person for Bluefield’s custom research advisory services, Keith has provided strategic guidance to an impressive list of global companies, including infrastructure investors, technology suppliers, water & wastewater utilities, and equipment manufacturers. Prior to joining Bluefield, Keith built market insight services for Pyramid Research, Emerging Energy Research, and IHS in the US and Europe.

He frequently shares his perspectives as a panelist and moderator at global industry and corporate events. Keith has also been cited in The New York Times, ABC News and other major news outlets.

Keith received a BA from Columbia University in English Literature and Hispanic Culture and a Master of Business Administration from IESE Business School. He leads Bluefield Research’s team of water experts from Barcelona, Spain.




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