California Tap Water: The Best Deal Around
Fast Facts on Rising Water Costs
Water is essential to our daily lives, but few people stop to consider its importance and value. In most communities in California, water costs less than a penny per gallon at the tap.
Safe and reliable water is a true bargain considering the energy, extensive delivery system and expertise required to capture, treat and deliver water to homes and businesses in the state, day in and day out.
Depending on where you live in California, your water may come from a nearby well or river. Or it may travel hundreds of miles through canals or pipelines to reach your tap. Regardless of where it originates, your tap water is filtered, cleaned, tested and distributed in an exhaustive process that produces some of the highest quality drinking water in the nation and the world.
The cost of delivering that water to your tap has increased in recent years for several reasons. Even with these ongoing increases, California tap water remains an incredible value, especially when compared to bottled water and other everyday products.
It's also more reliable than most other products and services. Can you even remember a time when you turned on the tap and water didn't flow? Simply put, tap water is the best deal around.
What Determines the Cost of Tap Water?
Tap water is a great value. But the cost of treating and delivering it to your tap is going up. Here are some of the factors contributing to increased costs:
Rising Water Treatment Costs
California tap water meets some of the most stringent water quality standards in the nation. Producing that high-quality water requires significant investments in treatment technologies.
In addition, new drinking water regulations continue to be established as technology allows for detection of contaminants at extremely small concentrations. Stringent new regulations add to the cost of providing water.
Aging Water Infrastructure
From treatment plants to pumping stations to local storage tanks to pipelines, much of the system that delivers water to Californians was built decades ago. Aging parts of that system must be upgraded, repaired and / or replaced to ensure reliable water deliveries for future residents and businesses. Capital expenses and debt service to fund those repairs and upgrades can account for a significant portion of monthly water bills.
Increasing Energy Costs
It takes a tremendous amount of electricity to pump, treat and deliver water in California. Electricity costs can account for a substantial portion of a local water agency's operating expenses. As energy costs rise, the increases directly affect the cost of delivering water to consumers.
Environmental regulations - including endangered species requirements, wastewater discharge permits, air quality standards and many more - also add significant costs to the job of delivering water. Those costs are reflected in monthly water bills.
Costs of Developing New Water Supplies
California's population continues to grow, but our statewide water supply system has not been significantly expanded in more than three decades. Local water agencies have invested billions of dollars in local resource strategies such as water recycling, groundwater storage, conservation and other projects to stretch supplies and increase reliability. State legislation enacted in November 2009 requires water agencies to make additional investments in these programs. Monthly water bills may reflect a share of those costs.
Reduced Revenues as a Result of Conservation
Recent years have seen significant reductions in water deliveries for many parts of the state because of multiple dry years and endangered species requirements. In response, many local water agencies imposed mandatory water conservation. Though water agencies appreciate their customers' conservation efforts, they must continue to pay the fixed costs of operating their systems - regardless of the amount of water sold. For many agencies, it may be necessary to raise rates to offset revenues lost to reduced water sales.
Tap Water Remains the Best Deal Around
California's public water agencies are committed to delivering safe, reliable and affordable water to homes, businesses and farms in every corner of the state. They have been doing the job for almost 100 years.
Even though the cost of providing that water may increase in the near future, California tap water is still the best deal around.