As water utility rates steadily increase, an alarming reality surfaces. Recent research efforts conducted by researchers at Michigan State University suggest that at the trending increase in rates, the amount of families unable to afford clean, running water will soon approach 40%. As it’s predicted, this projection will become a reality within the next five years; this fate is not far from becoming our reality. An original study funded by the National Science Foundation revealed that the rate increase is sourced from a variety of factors to include circumstances such as deteriorating infrastructure, global warming, and the migration of city dwellers to more rural places of residence.
The EPA advises that the combined cost of water and sewage services should not exceed 4.5 percent of a family’s total household income. While these costs for a consistent supply of clean potable water might seem reasonable to some, it leaves approximately 12% of our nation’s lower socioeconomic class struggling to pay their water bill. In southern states, Ohio, and Michigan, an overwhelmingly large population of low-income families are considered as being at “high-risk” of not being able to afford their water bills.
Authorities are estimating the cost of repairing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure will be upwards of one trillion dollars to complete, and it is believed that wastewater treatment facilities will be in need of costly repairs, totaling over 36 billion dollars, to accommodate the changes associated with global warming. To offset some of the cost of necessary upgrades and repair, families will surely see the additional increase in rates reflected on their monthly water and sewage statements.
In cities like Philadelphia and Detroit, a unique concern arises with the redistribution of the urban population. As families relocate from urban communities to more laid back suburban and rural areas, urban families experience an increase in their monthly water rates. Urban communities often pay a flat rate for water and sewage services, which is then appropriately divided amongst residents according to their use. With a decline in urban population, each household becomes increasingly more responsible for their share of the division of water and sewage cost – leaving cities like Detroit with more than 50,000 delinquent accounts and many households without clean, running water altogether.
Water is a resource that all inhabitants of our earth have a right to. Unless a collaboration between government, utility companies, and residents takes effect, the number of households unable to pay for the use of these services will continue to increase, causing the issue to reach beyond low-income families as it extends into the middle class, affecting an even larger number of people.
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