Water, water everywhere…

Interesting article in the NYT linked by Matthew Kahn of UCLA. The article really reinforces how much investment is needed in water infrastructure.

Merely maintaining our water systems will cost $274 billion over the next 20 years, according to the E.P.A. Upgrading our water supply to eliminate all public health risks from chemicals and microbes in our drinking water would be far more expensive.

And you know where most of the filtered water in the U.S. goes: down the drain (well, sort of).

The largest single consumer of water in most cities is not a consumer at all. Water pipes, often more than 100 years old, leak millions of gallons per day in every major city in the United States.

Finding new ways to deliver water to households can drastically cut down on the waste of water. Pricing or metering water would go a long way towards realizing a bunch of efficiency gains in water delivery as consumers and providers need an incentive to cut down on waste. Eventually, water will not be free. I’m of the opinion that water will be the “oil” of the coming 100 years, our descendants will look back at articles like this and think we were living in the stone age.

Ben Dachis is a policy analyst at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. His research involves aviation, airport, urban land use and transportation economics and privatization.