VISTA, CALIFORNIA -- Water is in the news a lot today, especially in California and other western states. To our credit, Americans in many parts of the country are actually using less water today than they were 25 years ago. But at the same time, they are invariably paying more for that water.
The average person in the U.S. is now using about 52 gallons of water per day. This is down from nearly 70 gallons per day in 1999, according to Maureen Hodgins with the Water Research Foundation, an independent organization that studies water-related issues.
But at the same time, according to an August 2014 report from Circle of Blue, an online publication that focuses on global water issues and sustainability, the average water bill in the U.S. for a family of four is up 6 percent from last year and a staggering 30 percent since 2010.
"This spike in charges is well above price increases for other utilities such as gas and electricity," says Klaus Reichardt, CEO of Waterless Co, a leading manufacturer of no-water urinal systems.
"And, it's way above the national inflation rate, which has hovered at about 2 percent per year for the past four years."
Some U.S. cities have even seen their water rates increase by double-digit percentages over the past year, with Fresno, CA, at the top of the list with a 43 percent increase in water rates since 2013.
According to Reichardt, the key reasons for these giant increases in water rates are the following:
- Water and sewer charges have been "underpriced" for decades in the U.S.
- More water utility companies are turning to water users to fund infrastructure repairs and improvements that were traditionally paid for by Federal and state governments.
- Simple supply and demand.
"Even though we are using less water per person, there are more of us in the country today than 25 years ago," explains Reichardt. "On top of that, we have shortages throughout the country. The result is that the cost of water has nowhere to go but up."