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Opinion: We Can’t Afford the Price We Pay for Cheap Water

December 10th, 2014 by

From our colleague Dan Van Abs, outlining the coming crisis in our water-supply system. This article was originally posted on NJ Spotlight.

Aging infrastructure, consumer complacency, artificially low prices all combine to make the state’s water supply a problem just waiting to happen

Crumbling water infrastructure in Hoboken.

Crumbling water infrastructure in Hoboken.

A gallon of tap water in New Jersey usually costs well less than a penny, roughly $400 a year per household. People may see that price as either cheap or expensive. Either way, it is a price New Jersey can’t afford.

Water utilities face the same general rules whether owned by government or the private sector. They must provide sufficient water to their customers to meet normal and peak demands, and that water must meet drinking-water quality standards.

The problem is too that few water utilities keep up with the costs of repairing and replacing their assets, as discussed in three recent reports my research teams prepared for New Jersey Future. Water utility managers acknowledged this issue in nearly every interview. The NJ Clean Water Council (which advises the NJ Department of Environmental Protection), the American Society of Civil Engineers, and Facing Our Future (funded by New Jersey philanthropic foundations) have raised similar concerns.

Read the full article on NJ Spotlight.

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