Water Pricing & Affordability: Public vs Private Ownership

Water Pricing and Affordability in the US: Public vs Private Ownership

By: Xue Zhang, Marcela González Rivas, Mary Grant, Mildred E. Warner

Report examining the 500 largest community water systems in the US to explore if ownership is related to annual water bills and the percent of income that low-income households spend on water. Results show that, among the largest water systems, private ownership is related to higher water prices and less affordability for low-income families. In states with regulations favorable to private providers, water utilities charge even higher prices. Affordability issues are more severe in communities with higher poverty and older infrastructure. Water policy needs to address ownership and regulation and explore new mechanisms to ensure water affordability for low-income residents.

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