Water is a constant in our daily lives. We need it to drink, cook and clean. We need it for sanitation, fire protection, watering our lawns and washing our cars. We need it to live. Even so, it’s easy to take water for granted.
We are all beneficiaries of this magnificent network of treatment plants, pump stations and pipes that was handed down to us by generations before. Yet because our water infrastructure has lasted so long, we haven’t had to worry about the expense of replacing it. However, in the next few decades, much of that network is going to need upgrading or replacement. We can therefore be sure that tap water service will cost more in the future than it does today.
We have arrived at a point in time where we face a choice, either to adopt strategies to renew our water infrastructure, or accept the erosion over time of reliable water service. If we begin to move toward rate structures and financing plans that reflect the full cost of water service, we will avoid rate shock in the in the years ahead.
Over the past several months ITT has conducted a nationwide survey on the value of water, which details what Americans think should be done about this crisis—and who should pay for it. Some of the highlights include:
95% of American voters value water over any other service they receive, including heat and electricity
Our nation’s industrial and agricultural businesses— among the heaviest water users—rank it second, after only electricity
About three out of four American voters and businesses say disruptions in the water system would have direct and personal consequences
Many acknowledge they take clean water for granted: 69% of voters, 72% of businesses
When asked, U.S. voters and businesses do express concern about our nation’s water
- Nearly one in four American voters is “very concerned” about the state of the nation’s water infrastructure
- 29% percent of voters agree that water pipes and systems in America are crumbling and approaching a state of crisis
- 80% of voters say water infrastructure needs reform; about 40% say major reform
People understand that fixing our nation’s water infrastructure problems is a shared responsibility:
- 85% of voters, 83% of businesses agree federal, state and local governments should invest money in upgrading our water pipes and systems
- 79% of voters, 75% of businesses agree and think government officials need to spend more time addressing water issues
- Both citizens and businesses understand and accept responsibility
- 63% of American voters, and 57% of businesses say they are willing to pay a little more each month to upgrade our water system
People everywhere are willing to pay more, regardless of region, residence, gender, age or political affiliation
- Voters are willing to pay on average $6.20 more per month
- If we took those voters up on their offer, the United States could invest about $5.4 billion more per year in our nation’s water infrastructure
- This is more than four times the FY09 federal investment in our nation’s drinking water systems
See full results here.
When you consider the critical needs addressed by water service, you simply cannot put a price on a service that delivers public health, fire protection, economic development and quality of life.