Worker repairing large water pipe

Most of us take running water for granted. But it comes at a cost, and that cost is growing.

Ed Osann, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, says residential water and wastewater rates have been rising for years, and climate change is making it worse.

Ossan: “While affordability may not have been an issue 20 or 25 years ago, we’re just in a different place right now.”

For one thing, many communities have aging water systems that are not prepared to handle the droughts, floods, and extreme storms that are becoming more common. Renovating and repairing these systems is expensive, and the cost trickles down to consumers.

Shortages are also a concern. Rising sea levels threaten coastal freshwater supplies, and warmer, drier weather means lawns get watered more often, increasing demand for shrinking water supplies. All this affects the cost.

As prices rise, some customers may struggle to pay for the water they need.

Ossan: “Both states and utilities should take a clear-eyed look at the situation and take steps to ensure that water remains affordable for the most disadvantaged consumers.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Samantha Harrington, director of audience experience for Yale Climate Connections, is a journalist and graphic designer with a background in digital media and entrepreneurship. Sam is especially interested...