A photo like this says, “What problem? Water is everywhere.” And that’s part of the problem. We don’t see the 100+ year-old pipes leaking billions of tap water each day. Until a water main bursts in the neighborhood, we’re all good.
The city of Boston, MA had their water wake up in March 2010. Today, residents pay more for their bright & shiny NEW water works. On average, the monthly bill is $90 per single family household, if said family can survive on 180 GPD (gal per day). This is nearly double the cost prior to March 2010. And interestingly, water consumption went DOWN as costs went up. Funny how that works.
Imagine what would happen with a tax on carbon?
There are similar results in California during the recent (and ongoing) mega-drought. As awareness, monthly bills, and the threat of hefty fines rose, water consumption dropped 23% in one year. The 6th largest global economy also has enough wiggle room and common decency to offer low income rate assistance. Score a subsidy win for the actual need!
Speaking of need, the HPR article highlights some key numbers regarding our national water infrastructure:
- The collective total length of municipal water and sewer pipes approximates 1.5 million miles.
- The ASCE* estimates an annual waste of 2 trillion gallons, 15% of treated water, due to seepage and breaks of pipes that are beyond useful capacity.
- The bigly dollars needed (yeah, I trumped you) for infrastructure investment is estimated to range from $30 to $50 billion annually over 20 years. Current Federal expenditures do not come close.
- Sorry to say, water safety monitoring is also inadequate. Let’s ban the EPA altogether, shall we? Somehow, 60-million people might agree.
And the cost of doing nothing will increase over time. This problem isn’t going away. Yet most people, and I highlight politicians, don’t see it that way. Water isn’t sexy, and will not score PAC dollars for an upcoming campaign like chatter on terrorism or taxes. So the problem stays buried, like the pipes that are bursting. Hope it doesn’t happen in your neighborhood any time soon.
*ASCE = American Society of Civil Engineers
Photo Credit: Wout Daenen, “DSC_0234,” taken December 25, 2008 at Croton Dam https://www.flickr.com/photos/woutster/