Have you ever stopped to think about the true value of the water that flows from our taps? We might not see it, but behind the scenes is a magnificent network that includes a state-of-the-art water treatment plant, pump stations and pipes that around the clock deliver water to our homes.
This network has been handed down to us by generations before. And because our water infrastructure has lasted so long, we haven’t had to worry about the expense of replacing it. As a result, what we pay for water might be less than the true cost of producing and delivering that water to our homes.
However, in the next few decades, much of that network is going to need upgrading or replacement. In fact, our water treatment facility, Forest Park Water, has recently been significantly upgraded to meet increasingly stringent drinking water regulations. We can be sure that tap water service will cost more in the future than it does today.
We have arrived at a turning point. The choice we face—the turning point—is either to adopt strategies to renew our water infrastructure, or accept the erosion over time of reliable water service. If we begin to move toward rate structures and financing plans that reflect the full cost of water service, we will avoid rate shock in the years ahead.
When you consider the critical needs addressed by water service, tap water will always be a tremendous value. In fact, it will be a bargain. You simply cannot put a price on a service that delivers public health, fire protection, economic development and quality of life.