The end of Cheap water for Americans
One of the not so surprising issues to face the American public now is the issue of the price of water. We are all just too used to turn on the tap and get as much water as our heart desires. But, just like what happen with gas prices in the 80’s we are waking up to the reality that water is not as plentiful as it once was. This has become an issue that every local government will have to face in the months ahead and is already being felt by some of us.
Tom Curtis head of the AWWA or the American Water Works Association has been quoted saying that “The era of cheap water is really coming to an end.” The increase in the price of this utility is due in great part to the recent drought that have been happening around the country, but it also stems from the fact that many city’s pipe systems are old and need to be replaced.
At an estimated cost of 2 trillion dollars (that’s a 2 followed by 12 zeros) over a period of 25 years, this is not an easy task and will cost residents plenty of resources. This is only a rough estimate by AWWA which includes the restoration and expansion of current drinking water systems as well as sewage systems. Tom Curtis is afraid that all of this added cost will prevent low income families to get the precious resource: “… now we are coming face to face with the social problem of big dimensions, namely the hardship that these investments are going to impose on customers at the bottom of the income spectrum.
The rise in water prices has already been felt. In neighboring Detroit, water bills have increased by 11.3 percent. Sewage bills in the motor city have seen an increase of 16.7 percent! The reasons for this increase is the failure of the utility companies to receive a steady income from the water supply delivered to inhabitants.
Other cities, mainly on the Sun Belt are also looking at ways in which they can attain a steady supply of water. San Diego is the biggest example of this new trend for local governments. The county in California has pioneered the recycling of sewage water into drinking water. They’ve done this in an effort to cope with recent droughts. The project, even with its “yuck factor” as the media has called it, has been successful, but at a very high cost. This will inevitably go towards taking a big bite out of resident’s income.
Adding to the problem there is new legislation that is aimed at cleaning up our waterways, rivers and lakes. Unfortunately, this new legislation will cost local municipalities almost an arm and a leg. And of course the price is going to get passed on to the consumer which in turn will fall back on their payments. If enough people stop paying for the service the utility company will not be able to meet its funding and there will be trouble, just like what happen in Detroit.