Revealed: millions of Americans can’t afford water as bills rise 80% in a decade

An exclusive analysis of 12 US cities shows the combined price of water and sewage bills increased by an average of 80% between 2010 and 2018. This nation's growing water affordability crisis comes as the pandemic underscores the need for universal access to clean water. The research also shows that rising bills are not only hurting the poorest residents but working Americans as well.

A truck driver from Warrensville Heights, Ohio is having real problems making ends meet when water costs are so high. "I’ve done two payment plans, but I’m still in foreclosure, it’s like they’re trying to make me homeless. There is no way I’m using the amount of water they’re charging me for but I’m in a no-win situation, I don’t want to lose my home so I have to keep finding the money.”

As the pandemic continues with no clear end in sight, we must fight to ensure access to water, power, and internet. Please sign Ohio Citizen Action's petition to Gov. DeWine demanding state action to ensure all utilities are affordable and accessible to all Ohioans.


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The cost of running water and sewage is a burden for large numbers of poor Americans 

Guardian graphic // Source: Roger Cotton as part of an international Guardian investigation. *Low-income = living below 200% of the FPL; Very low-income: below 50% of the FPL

"Rising costs are disproportionately impacting poor Americans. In New Orleans, Santa Fe and Cleveland, about three quarters of low income residents live in neighbourhoods where average water and sewage bills are unaffordable.

Amid rising costs and diminishing federal dollars, the use of punitive measures – shutoffs and liens (a legal claim on the house linked to a debt which can lead to foreclosure) – is widespread. Just like mortgage foreclosures, water shutoffs and liens can force affected households to abandon their homes.

Jarome Montgomery, 48, a truck driver from Warrensville Heights in Cleveland has borrowed from his partner, mother, grandmother and sisters to repay more than $30,000 to the water department since 2013, and avoid his home being auctioned off at a tax sale. Despite this, he still owes over $5,000 in water and sewer charges including penalties and interest."

-- Nina Lahkani, The Guardian 

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