Priceless: The Market Myth of Water Pricing Reform

Source: Food and Water Watch, 2010

From the summary:
America’s rising water demand risks exhausting available supplies. Developing effective strategies is necessary to address scarcity, improve water efficiency and encourage conservation while strengthening U.S. water infrastructure.

To tackle the tension between dwindling supplies and growing demand, many economists, market-oriented environmentalists and think tanks have advocated for market-based pricing of household water rates — essentially charging consumers more for water to encourage conservation. Most U.S. residential water rates are low, so raising these rates has a certain logical appeal. But this simple-sounding proposition is not so simple.

Water pricing reform alone is no panacea for America’s water-management challenges. Society’s interest in ensuring environmentally sustainable water use and universal access to affordable water service is poorly served by a market model. Water is essential to life; commodifying access to water treads on the basic human right to water.
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