Commentary

Black & Veatch's McCarthy Urges Industry Collaboration

Dan McCarthy, president and chief executive officer of Black & Veatch’s global water business, advocates continued international collaboration and cooperation by the water industry despite protectionist approaches adopted by the United States and becoming more prevalent in other countries.

His white paper, “Water Didn’t Start the Fight: Potential Impact of Protectionist Attitudes on Water/Wastewater Industry,” suggests industry leaders must win the fight be promoting a global perspective that moves beyond isolationism.

McCarthy notes that economic problems have fueled protectionist attitudes not only in large water and wastewater markets like the United States and China but also in smaller markets like Canada. He expresses concern that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 may have done more harm than good for the U.S. water/wastewater industry by providing much less stimulus money than needed to address infrastructure needs and less than what may be lost as other countries respond to the “Buy American” legislation.

Increasing protectionist measures and potential retaliation threaten to undo the industry’s strides to look beyond borders in addressing water and wastewater issues. “We need to continue to share best practices and help water utilities around the world understand each other’s points of views so that we reach a common goal of providing safe, clean, reliable water supplies for future generations in both developed and developing countries,” he said.

The white paper includes additional information and insights about ARRA and related waivers, the recent “Buy Chinese” edict, and retaliatory protectionist action under consideration in Canada. McCarthy calls for water industry leaders to “refuse to resurrect barriers that it has taken years to break down.”

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