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Stantec releases its new benchmarking report to guide water sector financial leaders

Latest outlook provides a pulse on industry trends from more than 500 water utilities

12/15/2022 TAMPA, FL TSX, NYSE:STN

Recognizing how current inflationary and economic pressures are mounting, Stantec released the 2022 Financial Trends in Water Report—its first annual—to guide water and sewer utilities on the path towards financial sustainability. The report gives utility accounting and finance executives a tool to evaluate their performance, inform decision-making, and support the development of financial policies and targets.

“Utility managers are under pressure to make sound investment decisions and build greater financial resiliency into their organizations, while providing the highest level of service at the lowest possible cost,” said Andrew Burnham, Stantec vice president and report co-author. “Our team at Stantec appreciates the unique challenges these leaders face. It’s exciting to have helped hundreds of communities develop strategies, systems, and analytical tools that balance sustainability and affordability—and this report can help many more.”

The report draws from Stantec’s UtilitiWise database and examines the evolution of utility finances from 2012-2021. Stantec has collected over 350,000 data points from audits of more than 500 water and sewer utilities across the United States—data that is used to support the analysis and examples in the report. 

The financial benchmarking report reveals how public utilities of all sizes are currently performing in five vital areas: cash on hand, revenues, operating expenses, capital investment, and debt. The report, was designed to identify current industry trends in financial performance and the likely drivers of those trends over the past 10 years:

  • Cash on hand has steadily increased across all regions and utilities of all sizes, likely a result of capital spending less than budget and increasing appropriations for future capital due to updated planning studies.
  • While capital spending has increased modestly, remaining asset life has slightly decreased, indicating the rate of increase in capital spending is still not keeping pace with depreciation.
  • Debt has increased, yet debt coverage ratios have improved, likely a result of the extended period of low interest rates and new financing programs during this period that have reduced borrowing costs for new capital and provided debt-service savings by refinancing older debt.
  • Revenues and operating expenses have steadily increased, but the level of increase varies widely by region due to unique combinations of changes in rates, population, conservation, and inflation. Sharp increases in operating expenses are leading to expectations for higher levels of near-term rate increases.  

“There are numerous factors at play for a utility affecting its financial health. Our financial database shows how utilities are confronting aging infrastructure, navigating industry technological advancements, and managing cash reserves,” said Deborah Kloeckner, co-author from Stantec. “Successful utility leaders will have to merge planning with execution and sustainability with affordability.”

A sustainable water future is complex and dynamic. By viewing water as an integrated system, Stantec is helping to confront global water challenges and accelerate the pathway to a more sustainable, reliable, and affordable future that provides improved water, energy, and infrastructure solutions. Learn more at

About Stantec
Communities are fundamental. Whether around the corner or across the globe, they provide a foundation, a sense of place and of belonging. That’s why at Stantec, we always design with community in mind.

We care about the communities we serve—because they’re our communities too. We’re designers, engineers, scientists, and project managers, innovating together at the intersection of community, creativity, and client relationships. Balancing these priorities results in projects that advance the quality of life in communities across the globe. Stantec trades on the TSX and the NYSE under the symbol STN.

Media Contacts
Ben Carter
Stantec Media Relations
Ph: (813) 326-9921

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