Puerto Rico water deal spurs flood of investor interest

Thirteen groups of companies from the US, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East have responded to the US territory’s request for qualifications to improve its water metering system, which currently allows 63% of water to go unbilled.

Thirteen groups of companies from the US, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East have expressed interest in Puerto Rico’s first public-private partnership in the water sector.

The Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnership Authority issued a request for qualifications for the project in June. It received the following responses from companies that specialise in water metering technology (consortium nationality reflected in brackets):

– NCO Financial Systems of Puerto Rico (Puerto Rico/USA);
– TAHAL Group & Associates (Israel);
– Proactiva Medio Ambiente (Spain);
– Aguas Borinquen, a consortium formed by Empresas de Acueductos y Alcantarillados de Bogotá and Miya (Colombia/Luxemburg);
– EYDAP (Greece);
– Suez Environment North America and Sociedad de Aguas de Barcelona (France/Spain/USA);
– Consorcio Canal Extensia and Inassa (Spain/Colombia);
– Empresas Públicas de Medellín (Colombia);
– Pure Water Consortium, a team comprised of Cobra and ACS Group (Spain);
– Paragon Project Resources (USA);
– Omega-Wendel, a team comprised of Omega Engineering and Wendel (Puerto Rico);
– Johnson Controls (USA);
– AAIC Consortium, a team comprised of ACEA, IBM, Citi and ARAD Technologies (Italy/USA/Israel).

The project will require a private investor to come up with a water metering technology that will help Puerto Rico better track its water usage. The winning team will have to replace the current water meters with a new system that they will design, develop and finance. In addition, they will operate the new system for a period of 15 years.

Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority executive director Jose Ortiz said in a statement that the public-private partnership (PPP) will “allow us to establish [a] modern, reliable and efficient automated reading system that will reduce the level of non-revenue-water” in the authority’s water system.

Non-revenue water is water that goes unbilled for reasons such as losses, imprecise metering, water theft, and unauthorised water consumption. In 2009, 63 percent of Puerto Rico’s water was classified as non-revenue, resulting in lost money and increased operational costs for the authority.

Puerto Rico will next evaluate the 13 respondents’ qualifications “to ensure that the proponents are duly qualified to undertake such an infrastructure project”, David Alvarez, head of the Puerto Rico PPP Authority, said in a statement.

After that review is concluded, the respondents deemed to be qualified for the project will be invited to submit their formal proposals for the project.

Alvarez said in an interview that the PPP Authority hopes to select the qualified respondents by the end of the month and to release the request for proposals next month.