The Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill conducts surveys of water and sewer rates in many states across the country and turns those results into rates dashboards. In recent years, at least three news outlets in Arizona, Illinois, and North Carolina have used data from these surveys in their stories showing that neighboring water systems often charge vastly different amounts for the same quantity of water.
In the Arizona story, News 4 Tucson interviews a local resident who doesn’t understand why he pays more for water at his system than he would if he were a customer at neighboring systems.
“Water is water to us,” said the customer to News 4 Tucson. “How is it possible that one water company can charge 70 percent more than another water company within a local geographical area?”
Is he right? When it comes to price, is it true that water is water? Absolutely not.
Many customers incorrectly believe that the cost of providing a gallon of water is the same regardless of which water system provides it. In reality, there are many factors that can influence the price of water and cause water rates to vary, sometimes significantly, even among neighboring systems. Continue reading