Guest Commentator: Chris Franklin, President and Chief Executive Officer, Aqua America @ChrisAquaCEO

How do you think the diverse industries in Pennsylvania can work together to encourage economic growth statewide?

Diverse industries across Pennsylvania can work together by collaborating to drive a modern economic growth agenda. We are doing just that with Grow PA, an ongoing, statewide initiative that convenes leaders from various sectors of our business and civic communities to discuss how we can work together for economic growth in the commonwealth.

Grow PA is centered on three pillars: modernizing all facets of infrastructure, transforming post-secondary education and accelerating healthcare technology innovation. As a multi-state water and wastewater utility with more than 130 years in business, Aqua America has been particularly active in contributing solutions and making investments in improved infrastructure.

Water is life-sustaining, and it touches everyone—and every industry—across our commonwealth, in more ways than we realize each day. As we’ve seen over the last several decades though, it’s also something that can be neglected. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave U.S. water infrastructure a “D” grade and wastewater infrastructure a “D+” in 2017.  The reality is that our country has more than 1 million miles of water pipe, much of which was laid in the early 20th century. Most water systems are run by municipalities, a landscape that affords Aqua an opportunity to really help these aging systems and strengthen our state for future prosperity.

Aqua has a record of purchasing both municipal and private water systems, injecting needed capital into systems and developing the infrastructure required for clean drinking water and wastewater. Working with these local systems and making necessary improvements in infrastructure, Aqua invested about $478 million in water and wastewater infrastructure in 2017 alone, and $2 billion in capital improvements over the past five years.

Aqua’s work with municipalities helps to leverage economies of scale that otherwise can’t be realized with the 2,500 unique water systems throughout Pennsylvania, which account for 5 percent of all U.S. water systems. My hope is that our work together will highlight how policy treatments can encourage interconnected regional water systems that create remarkable efficiencies and strengthen our commonwealth.

Our infrastructure work is one of the ways Aqua can ensure we’re helping Grow PA for a strong economic future. Letting private capital go to work to assist municipalities struggling with aging water systems is a much better alternative to federal financing, and our investments help to support local economies. I’m proud Aqua is a part of this important, transformational effort.

Aqua America is the title sponsor of Grow PA, a statewide initiative to convene people and organizations throughout Pennsylvania to establish a modern economic growth agenda. To learn more, visit