40% of households in Philadelphia can’t pay their water bill

Cory Doctorow – Mar 7, 2017

America is in the midst of an “invisible water crisis” as the post-war water infrastructure reaches the end of its duty-cycle and cash-strapped public utilities struggle to find the money to rebuild it. In cities like Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, and Detroit, families increasingly find themselves in water debt, and in Detroit, 50,000 households have had their running water cut off because of delinquency.

The estimated bill for upgrading the end-of-lifed American urban water infrastructure is $1 trillion. Cities that have tried privatization as a means of pushing the bill onto investors have been shocked by the bills: in Atlanta, the private water provider charges $325.52 a month, which only qualifies as “affordable” if your household income tops $87K.

For people already living in poverty — 40 percent of the population in Detroit — any increase in a water cost will strain a family’s finances, said Randy Block, director of the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network. He and others in the faith community are trying to raise money to help needy residents pay for water.

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