So everyone is doing their Top 10 questions for 2016 (although with David Letterman off the air, perhaps less so), I figured why not? So it the vein of looking forward to 2016, let’s ponder these issues that could affect utilities and local governments:
- How wild, or weird will the Presidential election get? And part b, what will that do to America’s status in the world? Thinking it won’t help us. Probably won’t help local governments either.
- Will the economic recovery keep chugging along? Last time we had an election the economy tanked. Thinking a major change in direction might create economic uncertainty. Uncertainty (or panic) would trickle down. Status quo, probably keeps things moving along. .
- What will the “big” issue be in the election cycle and who will it trickle down to local governments and utilities? In 2008 it was the lack of health care for millions of Americans and the need for a solution. Right after the election we got the Great Recession so most people forgot about the health care crisis until the Affordable are Act was signed into law. And then ISIS arose from a broken Iraq and Arab summer. None helped local governments.
- What are we going to hear about the 20 richest Americans having more assets than the bottom 150 million residents? 20 vs 150,000,000. And while we are at it, the top 0.1% have more assets than the bottom 90%, the biggest disparity since the 1920s. While we will decide that that while hard work should be rewarded, the disparity is in part helped by tax laws, tax shelters, lobbying of politicians, etc. as Warren Buffett points out, indicate a discussion about tax laws will be heard. Part b – if we do adjust the tax laws, how will we measure how much this helps the bottom 99.9%?
- What will be the new technology that changes the way we live? Computers will get faster and smaller. Phones are getting larger. Great, but what is the next “Facebook”? By the way the insurance folks are wondering how the self driving car will affect the insurance industry. So reportedly is Warren Buffett. Watch Mr. Buffett’s moves.
- Along a similar vein, will the insurance industry start rethinking their current risk policies to look at longer term as opposed to annual risk? If so what does that mean for areas where sea levels are rising? The North Carolina coast, where sea level rise acceleration is not permitted as a discussion item could get tricky.
- Will unemployment (now 5%) continue to fall with associated increases in wages? Will that help our constituents/customers? Will people use more water as a result?
- Where is the next drought? Or flood? And will the extremes keep on coming? Already we have record flooding in the Mississippi River in December – not March/April? Expect February to be a cold, snowy month. IT is upper 80s here. Snowing in the Colorado Rockies.
- Will we continue to break down the silos between water “types” for a more holistic view of water resources? We have heard a bunch on potable reuse systems. More to come there, especially with sensors and regulations. But in the same vein, will we develop a better understanding of the link between ecosystems and good water supplies, and encourage lawmakers to protect the wild areas that will keep drinking water cleaner?
- Will we get water, sewer, storm water, etc. customers to better understand the true value of water, and therefore get their elected official on board with funding infrastructure neglect? And will that come as a result of better education, a better economy, breaking down those silos, drought (or floods), more extreme event, more breaks or something else?
Happy New Year everyone. Best to all my friends and followers in 2016!