New England water and sewer utilities must combat costly mandates and aging infrastructure that risk offsetting otherwise strong enterprise and financial profiles, S&P Global Ratings said in a report.
One-third of the water systems are undergoing or have recently completed major projects, said S&P. Costs for these projects from 2016 to 2020 range from $20 million for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission to $6.4 billion for the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority, which completed its combined sewer overflow project in 2015.
The authority has $5.6 million in outstanding debt while the commission has $481 million.
The region surpasses the national average in credit ratings for the water and sewer sector. The most common ratings in New England are AA and AA-minus, accounting for 50% of the sector’s published ratings. Nationally, 40 percent of the published ratings get an A-plus and AA-minus rating.
S&P has revenue debt ratings on 21 public water and wastewater utilities in the six-state region. These ratings exclude debt issued by wholesalers and by state agencies and bond banks for both their own state programs and federal clean water and drinking water programs.
The number of public ratings per state in New England is lower than in other regions due to use of both state and federal programs and general obligation bonds to fund infrastructure.