In the largest U.S. water rate survey of its kind, Food & Water Watch today released a comprehensive review of the 500 largest U.S. community water systems that found that large, for-profit privately owned systems charge 58 percent morethan large publicly owned systems. An overwhelming majority of U.S. water customers—87 percent—receive their water from a publicly owned, not-for-profit service provider.
The survey also shows that water systems are publicly owned and operated in the 10 most affordable cities for water of the 500 systems surveyed. As of January 2015, Phoenix, Ariz. enjoyed the most affordable household water use, while Flint, Michigan was the most expensive—an anomaly given the problems that the city has faced under emergency management. In 2014, an emergency manager switched the Flint water supply from Detroit to the Flint River in a proposed cost-cutting effort—corroding pipes that have caused lead poisoning and a deadly legionella outbreak.