Water management issues increasingly burden communities, local governments

As south Louisiana communities are increasingly faced with water management issues caused by rising sea levels and natural disasters, the need for municipalities and regions to work together is rising, said Henry Cisneros, former San Antonio mayor and U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary, at the Ten Across Water Summit taking place at The Water Campus today.

As the federal government struggles with the national debt, it will be up to local and state governments, and regional partnerships, to address water management issues—and they’ll need more money, perhaps from the private sector—Cisneros stressed.  

“We have to find ways to find private capital for what is broadly referred to as infrastructure issues, but can include water management issues,” Cisneros said.

Alex Kaplan, who works to develop and execute innovative risk transfer solutions to help governments, says what makes him uncomfortable is the number of natural disasters that are affecting the uninsured.

About 70% of damage from natural disasters is not covered by insurance, said Kaplan, the senior vice president of global partnerships for Swiss RE, and only 20% of those affected by Hurricane Harvey last year were insured.

“And that (rebuilding effort) falls on the back of society,” Kaplan said.

A new challenge for leaders today is properly educating the public on the severity of water management issues, said Cisneros.

“There almost needs to be a secular faith in presenting the facts and educating the public,” Cisneros said. “Even in this era of fake news attacks, we have to believe there is a core truth that can be explained if we take the steps to educate the public.”

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