WASHINGTON — According to the Cost of Clean Water Index just released by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the average cost of treating wastewater in the U.S. rose 5.5% in 2013. This is more than double the rate of inflation, nearly double what consumers were paying in 2002, and the 12th consecutive year that water-related charges have gone up.

According to the study, the average national amount a single-family residence now pays for water is $435 annually. The highest is about $700 per year and the lowest is $225.

The area of the country with the highest water rates is New England; the lowest rates are in Texas ($368) and Wyoming and Montana (about $225). The study was based on more than 184 NACWA members that serve nearly 110 million people in the U.S.

“This is just the beginning,” said Klaus Reichardt, CEO and founder of Waterless Co.  “The study also predicted that rates will continue to rise about 5% per year through 2018, jumping to $500 annually in 2016.”

According to Reichardt, these cost escalations are the result of a number of factors, including:

  • Population growth
  • Infrastructure repair
  • Chronic droughts and water shortages

“It is becoming clear that some areas of the country must adjust to a ‘new normal’ when it comes to water,” said Reichardt. 

“What were originally considered droughts in some areas of the country are beginning to take on a permanent look. In these cases, water [rates are] rising because of more demand with a limited supply.”

The only way to address this situation is through greater water efficiency, according to Reichardt.  Beyond simple water conservation efforts, water efficiency is a long-term strategy that is already paying dividends in many “dry” areas of the country.