You may have seen recent media reports (like here or here) about water rates gradually increasing beyond what some customers can pay.
With that in mind, it's important to know where rate money goes and why it is important to your water provider.
AWWA’s Plain Talk Series breaks it down for us: "Water suppliers have fixed costs—salaries, hydrant maintenance, mortgages and so forth. They must collect this money regardless of water use, so when water volume goes down because of conservation by the public, the cost of each gallon of water used sometimes is raised to provide the water supplier with the money it needs to maintain its system. However, water conservation can eventually lead to stable rates for a longer period of time, because capital improvements or new investments can be postponed if demand does not increase."
A 2012 study estimated it would cost more than $1 trillion to repair, replace and expand drinking water infrastructure throughout the United States over 25 years. The infrastructure used to transport and treat water is aging and, in some cases, causing leaks and breaks, which cost more to repair than preventive maintenance.
This story from Denver Water explains how it manages its capital projects into its annual budget, rather than manipulating rates to cover those costs.
At the end of the day, water is still a bargain when compared to the cost of other services. When you factor in all its health and hygiene benefits, it becomes an even bigger bargain. But there is a price to pay for the convenience of having that water flow from your faucets, showerheads and toilets on demand, every time you need it.