Water Affordability | Part 1

Riding out the financial whirlpool: what's happening with water affordability?

The affordability of water – both now and in the near future – is a hot topic these days, though we have mostly seen diagnoses rather than prescriptions for the challenges we are facing. From intake to faucet, there are a multitude of costs necessary for ensuring access to clean, reliable water. As many already know, drinking water has generally been priced below the true costs of delivering and sustaining its uninterrupted flow. This price gap has become increasingly stark in recent years as the bill associated with deferred maintenance has “come due” – the need to replace the nation’s deteriorating water infrastructure is now pressing. Generating sufficient revenue to cover these capital investments requires an increase in rates, yet doing so can easily undermine the affordability of a service so vital to life. Today, localities across the nation are facing a very serious and complex challenge: how to address the needs of an aging water system while maintaining equitable access to its service, given budgetary constraints, demographic shifts, and environmental uncertainties.