The Price of Sustainable Water Service: a Not-So-Simple Calculation

Circle of Blue, a leading information source on water issues, published an article earlier this summer entitled “The Price of Water, A Comparison of Water Rates and Usage in 30 US Cities” by Brett Walton. The article explores the different factors determining the cost of water services. There are countless factors contributing to the cost of water service: customers’ proximity to the water, the cities’ per capita water consumption, the regions’ yearly precipitation, government subsidies, and many more. As expected, the cost of water service varies dramatically across the country.  For an average family of four using 150 gallons per day or 4,500 gallons per month; the monthly cost of water service ranges from $27 to $224. In most American cities, water use is declining while rates charged are rising. Since less water is being used, utility companies must raise prices for customers to provide for their costs. Western states, however, may feel the present changes less than other states. The federal government invested in major water infrastructure projects in the West over 50 years ago. The price of water service is artificially low in these areas and customers are more likely to experience “rate shock” to bridge the cost gap when investments and infrastructure repairs are made. Proximity to water also determines water rates. Moving water takes energy and therefore energy costs are higher in drought-prone regions. Whereas the Great Lakes region, for example, may have lower energy costs associated with water delivery because of its close proximity to its water sources. Also contributing to water service costs is crumbling water infrastructure; some of which has been in...

“Water is Your Business” Campaign Helps Elevate the Water Infrastructure Dialogue

Recently, National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) in partnership with U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced the launch of its water infrastructure campaign Water Is Your Business. The goal of the campaign is to increase dialogue around the growing water infrastructure challenges that we face, build factual awareness among communities, and amplify the discussion around finding innovative solutions to address this challenge. According to experts, 45% of all water and sewage pipes in the United States will be considered “poor”, “very poor” or “life elapsed” by 2020. Damaged and crumbling pipes is the biggest cause of the estimated seven billion gallons of water lost as a result of leakage every day. U.S. water mains are breaking at an astounding rate of 650 per day. It’s no surprise that the American Society of Civil Engineers rated our water system “D”.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that repairing, replacing, and upgrading aging water and wastewater infrastructure will cost local governments more than $600 billion over the next 20 years. Unless we address and invest in the water infrastructure issues immediately, ignoring the problem will have huge implications on not only public health but also our nation’s economy. United Water’s SOLUTION:Investing in America’s Water℠ is an award-winning partnership model that attracts new long-term capital from private equity partners to fund infrastructure upgrades and improve operating efficiencies, helping cities meet the growing demand for improved water quality and environmental standards. In order to be prepared to meet America’s water needs, we need elevate the dialogue on water infrastructure challenges on a national level, among all stakeholders – local communities, municipalities, regulators, industry experts, trade organizations and service providers. As Janet Kavinoky, executive director of Transportation and Infrastructure, U.S. Chamber of...