America’s water systems were built to last. Philadelphia is one of the older cities on the Atlantic Coast and Northeast that still use pipes that were installed before the Civil War. The pipes have held up remarkably well over 160 years. But without new parts and maintenance these systems will not last forever. The repair bill has come due and water prices are increasing to pay for it.
The price of water rose 5 percent last year, according to Circle of Blue’s annual survey of 30 major U.S. cities. The median increase was 3.5 percent. The increase continues a steady upward climb in water prices that reflects investment in new infrastructure and a response to declining water sales. The average price climbed 48 percent since 2010.
These adjustments are taking place at a time of deep uncertainty for utilities. The future of water bears little resemblance to the past. Demand is changing as households and businesses nurture a conservation ethic. They are installing appliances and fixtures that use considerably less water than their forebears. They are purifying and recycling their wastewater. Supply, too, is in flux. The planet is warming, throwing askew familiar weather patterns. The cheapest water sources have already been tapped… Read more from Circle of Blue