The Athens Messenger / Jim Parsons
The Findings feature at the back of the March 2017 issue of Harper’s Magazine, reported that researchers have found that “In five years, more than a third of U.S. households may be unable to afford water.”
“What??” I chuckled, “That can’t be right. Why would anybody think that?”
The answer has to do not so much with the cost of obtaining water, but with the cost of treating the water to make it safe to drink by removing suspended solids, bacteria, algae, viruses, fungi, and minerals. Also, there is the additional cost of keeping water safe to drink as it travels between the treatment plant and your house. Accomplishing these tasks requires a battery of systems to support physical, chemical, and biological processes. It is costly to acquire, operate, and maintain these systems.
Even so, to reach a conclusion about people not being able to afford water requires us to have some idea of how much water a household needs and at what point its cost would be considered unaffordable as well as what is going to be charged for water in the future. These factors are assessed in a January 2017 article by researchers at Michigan State University. Using publicly available data, here is what they found out.
Based on numbers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), the American Water Works Association (AWWA), and Circle of Blue (which reports monthly water information for a sample of U.S. cities), each American uses about 100 gallons of water a day or 12,000 gallons per month for a family of four. The best available water bill figures are the AWWA’s from 2014: $120 per month or $1,440 per year. Thus, the average cost of water in 2014 was $.01 per gallon.
Scientific Name: Alternanthera philoxeroides A native of South America, alligatorweed was inadvertently introduced to Southeastern U.S. in the late 1800s. Its white flowers are clover-like and bloom a summer. Most commonly found floating in mats along the water’s edge, alligatorweed also grows immersed and even terrestrially. Its opposing leaves are lance shaped, 1-2 inches long, […]
Do you know where the water that flows into a storm drain goes? This water does not go to a treatment plant but flows directly into our streams, lakes, and rivers. Many people poor oil, paint, yard waste, and other pollutants into the storm drain because they think the water will be treated before […]
RiverLink and MountainTrue have developed informational kiosks for each river access point along the French Broad River Paddle Trail with a grant from the North Carolina Recreational Trails Program. Each kiosk focuses on historical and natural features of the river, as well as paddle trail information including maps and boater resources. These kiosks aid users and […]