Alternative World Water Forum

As we invest in our public water systems — and we must — we need to distribute costs equitably.

Ask someone in Flint, Michigan, or São Paolo, Brazil — the list of cities rocked by water disasters seems to grow each day — how much safe clean water is worth. Worried about contamination and drought, it might be a pretty penny. But the ability of people to actually pay for the full cost of water — from protecting it at its source to getting it to flow from the tap — depends, as it does with anything for sale, on income. And yet water isn’t simply a commodity; it’s necessary for life, so the ethics and practicalities of how society pays for clean water quickly become tricky. The truth is that our growing income inequality means growing thirst and disease.

Treating and delivering water and sanitizing effluent is not cheap, and the cost of providing safe drinking water continues to climb, fueled dramatically by crumbling infrastructure, unpredictable weather and the need to reach deeper into watersheds for safe water. Daily management and regulatory failures are also to blame. In Flint, a change of water sources caused lead to leach into drinking water. In Atlanta, where services had been privatized, quality spiraled downward, leading eventually to the city’s decision to re-municipalize water services.

Read more on the website of Ensia

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