Groundbreaking Report on U.S. Freshwater Crisis
Charting New Waters report provides recommendations for transforming U.S. water infrastructure after 6-year examination
A new report on water and sewer infrastructure in this century. Here’s a business oriented report based on series of convenings by Johnson Foundation.
As you can see, the report concludes with a set of recommendations, one set generally categorized as “value of water,” a concept adopted by many private water companies and businesses, such as Nestle and Veolia, but also by those who believe the only way to finance needed improvements in water structure and delivery is to partnership public utilities, water and sewer departments, with private/public partnerships, including new forms of financing, provided by private investment securities or bonds.
The problem with “value of water” is its lack of recognition of the needs of the poor, because it is premised on Americans’ willingness to pay more because of the real costs of water. The idea of understanding the real cost of water is valid, because of externalized impacts on health and environment. However, it is one thing to understand the value of water and real cost of services on the one hand, and paying for that on the other. On the plus side, the report calls for conservation of water, tiered uses, reuses, and other approaches to reduce waste and inefficiency.
Why not build in a program that allows a family to reduce water use down to a minimum guarantee of 2,000 gallons per month, and if they do so, there water is free, because of the value of their own conservation, savings, and reuse. So a family that normally uses more than 4,000 gallons, “earns” ½ gallon of free water for every gallon it saves based on current use, and that savings continues as long as they remain below the 4,000 gallons per month. Something like this would likely pay for the water without costs of infrastructure, technologies, and allow a family that uses more than 5,000 per month earn ½ free for every gallon it reduces, or 2,000 gallons a month, as long as they remain at that level; if they exceed, they reimburse ½ gallon for each gallon over 2,000 up to 4,000, in which case they would pay full rate.
This would be subject to understanding that water is a human right, health, and family, and held as a public trust, in which every customer participates as beneficiary and through responsibility, in turn, the public water dept or utility does the same, including full accountability.
– Jim Olson
View Johnson’s new report, and past reports, under is “Charting New Waters” series of reports.