Personal Finance 

Could Your Water Bill Triple in the Next Few Years?

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Tap WaterMost of us take cleaning drinking water for granted. You turn on the tap, and out comes the water. It’s generally safe to drink, and usually clean. Most of us just assume that the water will be there; few of us think about the delivery system in place.

However, the delivery system for our water is becoming an issue. As our population grows, our water system needs to expand. On top of that, there are areas where water systems are old and in need of repair. As the needs of our drinking water system change, there will be costs involved. Indeed, CNN Money reports that expanding and repairing the water system will likely cost upward of $1 trillion between now and 2035.

For many Americans, these upgrades and expansions are likely to hit them in the pocketbook. According to the CNN Money article, some consumers could see their water bills double, and even perhaps triple, over the next few years. What you pay will largely depend on your location, and what needs to be done with your local water system — and how badly off it is. (It’s also worth noting that water infrastructure may not be the only cost in coming years; our power infrastructure and roads also need upgrading in many areas.)

Conserving Water

While conserving water is always a good idea for reducing household costs as well as living more sustainably, it might become even more important in the coming years as water prices increase to help pay the costs associated with improving the delivery system. Here are some ideas to help you conserve water and save money:

  • Check for leaks: Your first step is to check for water leaks. From a toilet that never seems to stop running to a dripping outside faucet, check everywhere for water leaks. Then, take the steps to stop them. Increase the efficiency of your home, and you’ll pay less over time.
  • Reuse what water you can: Figure out which water can be re-used. You can keep a pan or watering can beneath the faucet as you wash your vegetables. That water is perfect for watering plants. If you are waiting for the water to warm up, fill a water can while you wait. That water can be put to good use, rather than just going down the drain.
  • Make your yard more water efficient: Many people over-water their lawns and gardens. Find out the recommended water amount and duration, and stick to that. Watering early in the day, or in the evening, when it’s cooler, prevents loss to evaporation, and keeps your lawn healthier. You can also employ xeriscaping to some of your landscaping to reduce your water usage. Mulch can protect plants and reduce the need for extra watering.
  • Only run the washer with a full load: Wait until you have a full load of laundry before you do the wash. You’ll use less water — and do fewer loads.
  • Take a shorter shower: You don’t really need 10 or 15 minutes to shower — much less 20 or 30 minutes. Take more efficient showers, and you’ll use less water.
  • Turn off the tap: The most basic of ways to conserve water is to turn off the tap when you don’t directly need it. Turn off the tap while you brush your teeth, and create a “rinse” sink when you wash dishes by hand, rather than leaving the water running throughout.

A lot of small conservation steps can add up over time to hundreds in savings, and this will be especially true if your water bill goes up in the near future.

(Photo: lilspikey)

{ 11 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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11 Responses to “Could Your Water Bill Triple in the Next Few Years?”

  1. Miranda,
    Good suggestions while looking forward to what may be.

    It’s a shame that rural communities will likely have to pay more than urban residents. Do you think the federal government will intervene to try to even the costs across the country?

  2. Stephen - NYC says:

    Here in New York City we have been getting yearly increases in our water bill for the past few years and it’s only going to get worse. If you saw Die Hard 3, you saw & heard mention of Water Tunnel 3 (you’ll recall the truck driver mentioning the aqueduct and Bruce Willis asking why the driver was going to the race track). Now, the DEP here tells us that the water bills are necessary. Can’t argue with getting water, but I think the way they bill for it is wrong. Hitting us with a minimum usage fee and having that minimum fee then be subject to the sewage charge (it’s 159% of the water usage), is all wrong. Just bill us for the water. If there’s going to be a sewage fee, then it should be based the actual amount of water used, not a minimum usage amount. As it stands now, there is not incentive to conserve water since if I don’t use much they are going to still hit me with a min charge. And I am just a single-family homeowner. They have rates & policies for commercial buildings and apartment buildings that I am sure those owners are not too thrilled with.
    That all being said, NYC water tastes great.

  3. Water is a precious commodity, but I’ve been hearing about these water shortages forever now. Starting to not believe it personally.

  4. Rob O. says:

    What’s most frustrating is that we’re in the midst of a multi-year drought here in West Texas and scrounging for every drop of water, yet the Ohio Valley will likely be flooded to the point of disaster yet again this year.

    If we can pipe oil halfway across the nation, why not tap into the northern Mississippi River (or some of the major trunks that feed into it) and bring some of that devastating surplus down here to Texas where it’s so desperately needed?

    The billions in annual disaster relief and rebuilding could more than make up in a single year for the cost of implemented such a pipeline. And it’s a jobs-creation boon to boot! And if -this- pipeline were to spring a leak, well, it’s just water!!

    • Noel says:

      This concept can be applied to many parts of the world but why there is a lack of political will is beyond me too.

    • Joann says:

      An excellent idea. I always thought such projects would be too large and expensive, and maybe cost is the problem. How much would your water bill be — stunning, I should think, but perhaps less than the loss of livestock and crops. Some economists/financial experts would have to calculate that and divvy it up among those benefitting. Then, I’d like to see the world come together to pipe water across Africa to keep people alive and perhaps fight “desertification” of additional land. Surely, if such projects are worthwhile for oil and gas, they are for something essential to life. This is beyond the scope of this forum, but prompted by it and important.

  5. freeby50 says:

    I live in the Northwest. Water is not a problem here.

  6. Shirley says:

    In our locale we have always been on a flat water rate and it has indeed gone up in each of the last four years. Now water meters are being installed and we are warned that water bills will likely triple. ‘Pay for what you use’ is only fair in this region where it is commonplace to have a backyard swimming pool.

  7. Joann says:

    My water bill has increased at least 60 percent over the past six years. I can’t say exactly because we used to pay a fixed amount for “up to X gallons” which has changed.

    Keep an eye on your personal property taxes, too. Our SC county added a surprise “fee” this year because, apparently, someone wants more money. It is not much, but doubles the bill on my old clunker. I guess I won’t be able to deduct it from my tax bill because it is a fee and not a tax. Conservative Republicans don’t raise taxes, so it is a fee.

  8. Conserving water is always a good idea, regardless of the cost. We think of this as a never ending supply, but given the compounding increases in the population, you wonder how many people our water supply can really handle.

  9. Brian says:

    I love that I don’t pay for water at all (other than the electricity to pump it out of the ground). And all the water that goes down the drain is recycled via the ground after it hits the leach field.

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