Value of Water
The Value of Water: How often do you think about your tap water? If you're like most, probably not often. And yet tap water delivers so many things that no other water can deliver.
- It delivers public health.
- It delivers fire protection.
- It delivers economic development.
- It delivers quality of life.
Public Health Protection
The first obligation of any water supplier is to provide water that is safe for consumption. In a world where an estimated 3 million people die every year from preventable waterborne disease, water systems in North America allow us to drink from virtually any public tap with a high assurance of safety.
- A safe water supply is critical to protecting the public health - the first obligation of all water suppliers. Without our modern water systems, diseases such as cholera and dysentery would be part of everyday life.
- In the United States, water utilities monitor for more than 100 contaminants and must meet close to 90 regulations for water safety and quality. Those water standards are among the world's most stringent.States may also require utilities to meet additional standards.
- Community water supplies are tested every day. Tap water undergoes far more frequent testing than bottled water.
- Many North American water systems add small amounts of fluoride to their water supplies to help prevent tooth decay. Child cavity rates have been reduced by 20-40% where fluoridation has been implemented.
A well-maintained water system is critical in protecting our communities from the ever-present threat of fire.
- In most communities, water flowing to fire hydrants and home faucets is transported by the same system of water mains, pumps and storage tanks.
- A water system that provides reliable water at a high pressure and volume can be the difference between a manageable fire and an urban inferno.
- The ability to provide water for fire protection heavily influences:
- home construction
- location decisions
- Firefighters are the primary operators of fire hydrants, but your water utility is usually responsible for maintaining the hydrants. That maintenance is supported through our water bills.
- In 2004 alone, U.S. fire departments responded to 1.55 million fires across the country.
Support for the Economy
A safe, reliable water supply is central to the economic success of our communities.
- Tap water is critical to the day-to-day operations of existing businesses and to the viability of new commercial enterprises or residential developments.
- From foods and beverages to toothpastes and perfumes, water is the primary ingredient in hundreds of thousands of everyday products.
- Businesses must take into consideration the availability and quality of water when determining where to locate their offices or manufacturing facilities. The availability of water resources and service therefore has a profound effect on job creation.A scarcity of water resources can hold up multi-million dollar developments - commercial or residential - placing a severe strain on local economies.
- An increasing number of communities are using recycled water for non-drinking purposes such as industrial cooling or irrigation.
Quality of Life
Tap water is more than a convenience; it is central to our everyday lives
Any measure of a successful society ? low mortality rates, economic diversity, productivity, public safety ? is in some way related to access to safe water.
- Tap water is so intricately part of our lives that we can not imagine a day without it. Without tap water …
- How would we rinse our produce, clean dishes and clothes, water plants and landcapes and wash our cars?
- Where would we shower?
- How many businesses would have to suspend operations or relocate entirely?
- How would our institutions - from hospitals to firehouses to schools – function?
(per American Water Works Association)
The Value of Water Service
We are all beneficiaries of this magnificent network of treatment plants, pump stations and pipes that was handed down to us by generations before. Yet because our water infrastructure has lasted so long, we haven't had to worry about the expense of replacing it. However, in the next few decades, much of that network is going to need upgrading or replacement. We can therefore be sure that tap water service will cost more in the future than it does today.
We have arrived at a turning point. The choice we face—the turning point—is either to adopt strategies to renew our water infrastructure, or accept the erosion over time of reliable water service. If we begin to move toward rate structures and financing plans that reflect the full cost of water service, we will avoid rate shock in the in the years ahead.
When you consider the critical needs addressed by water service, tap water will always be a tremendous value. In fact, it will be a bargain. You simply cannot put a price on a service that delivers public health, fire protection, economic development and quality of life.