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Water: Sustainable Infrastructure

Infrastructure Financing & the Price of Water Services


Building, renewing and replacing water infrastructure is an ongoing, expensive enterprise. Paying for that ongoing investment requires financing and pricing strategies that cover the cost of providing services, while managing long-term debt and ensuring that services remain affordable.

Infrastructure Financing

There are numerous programs and tools to assist communities in financing their water infrastructure investments. The following links provide information on a number of avenues to pursue.

Price of Water Services

The funding for daily operation and maintenance and long-term capital investments for drinking water and wastewater systems are typically generated through user fees. When measured as a percentage of household income, the U.S. pays less for water and wastewater bills than other developed countries. Because of this, there is a perception that water is readily available and water services are generally inexpensive. To meet our essential infrastructure needs, public education on water sector system operations as well as private water conservation is needed.

Pricing of water services should accurately reflect the true costs of providing high-quality water and wastewater services to consumers in order to both maintain infrastructure and plan for upcoming repairs, rehabilitation and replacement of that infrastructure. Drinking water and wastewater utilities must be able to price water services to reflect all of the costs of treatment and delivery.

There is an extensive body of knowledge on approaches to pricing water services to help consumers learn about how it affects them and their community. To delve deeper into the topic, follow one of the following links:

Pricing StructuresApproaches to pricing water sector services.

Affordability ConsiderationsPricing to ensure everyone can have the service they need.

Frequently Asked Questions: Pricing Water Services—Learn about your water and wastewater bills.

Pricing Resources—Guides, tools, articles, reports and case studies.

Many of the resources posted on these pages are for informational purposes only and may not support or coincide with official EPA policy.

U.S. Geological Survey, Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 1995, U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1200. Denver, Colorado. 1995 (PDF)Exit EPA Disclaimer
Total sales for bottled beverages in 2001 were obtained from the Beverage Digest Fact Book 2002, Beverage Digest CompanyExit EPA Disclaimer, Bedford Hills, NY. Total retail sales in 2001 for carbonated, non-carbonated, and bottled water was $82 billion. Dividing $82 billion by 116 million households in the U.S. (obtained from U.S. Census informationExit EPA Disclaimer) yields spending of $707 per household per year. These calculations were made by Holly Stallworth, Ph.D., EPA Office of Water economist.
Raftelis Financial Consulting 2004 Water and Wastewater Rate SurveyExit EPA Disclaimer reports an average of $523 per household per year for combined water and sewer bills.

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