40% of households in Philadelphia can't pay their water bill

The city I live in voted a few years ago to split the water and trash from the wastewater bill. I pay monthly for water and trash, and then annually for wastewater (There are also smaller payment options).This year it’s ~$550 for wastewater and ~$60 per month for water and trash. That puts my total at ~$1300 per year.

#NotAllCities, I guess.

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Just for comparison, my bill for next year came in just the other day.

It works out to the equivalent of $480 for the whole year, water and sewerage.

And the reason I know what the annual bill is in advance is that it’s paid for out of local taxation, so water is free and unmetered at the point of use. The charges are in proportion to local taxes, so it’s also (kind of) based on the ability to pay.

So, it is possible to do this another way. Unaffordable water is a political choice.


Couldn’t you have an old-timey hand pump as a backup?

In theory I guess, but hand pumping up 300 feet is no small thing. In the holler down the way (as the old timers might say) there is a house with a hand dug well and they still have the old hand pump too.


When living paycheck to paycheck, as most of the working class and many middle class do, any minor crisis (basic health care, car breakdown, temporary unemployment or even reduced hours for hourly employees) will immediately wipe out any savings you’ve been able to scrape together. In a typical family size, those crises happen multiple times per year. If people do want something like a $700 cellphone or TV, they have to spend the money while they have it (tax refund time, for example, or having miraculously saved up enough without it being plundered by minor crises) or they’ll never get anything. Since their savings will always be lost, it’s use it or lose it. Can’t really blame them for occasionally wanting to get something with their hard-earned money (which will otherwise be lost, leaving them with nothing).

Of course, many cellphones don’t cost $700 up front but instead lock people into lengthy contracts at a higher price than those that don’t provide a phone (which further prevent them from saving). Being poor is expensive.

Who would be at fault for that would be those who think that it’s good to have an economy where wages remain stagnant or drop even while productivity increases and inflation continues to drive prices up and that we should have no basic social safety net to even out those minor crises.


seems about right. The really poor don’t own televisions, aircon, or smartphones. Otherwise they wouldn’t be really poor.

Almost two weeks. The well drilling company had to go from fifty feet to almost 300, since the neighborhood town used perforated pipe.

I remember a neighbor cheering me on as they saw liquid spewing up from the pipe. I had to remind them, ‘that is sewage’


Some things / special districts may indeed have a mandated emergency/surplus fund that is supposed to cover these things. And it’s amazing how often you get someone in a position of power who thinks “that money is just sitting there, why, we can use that to cover this special pet project of mine, then build it back up again.” And if there is no one to explain clearly and firmly that no, that money is not available except for very, very specific situations and no, it cannot be “borrowed”, and then prevent it from happening, guess what happens? I have seen this play out in something as small as a rural dyking district to a major Hydro corp. It is amazingly like a household, right down to the fact that the ones who suffer the most are usually those with the least control and who were saying “don’t you dare” from the start.

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Please, tell me about your smartphone, TV and air conditioning plan to lift people out of extreme poverty. If that’s all it takes, it will be much cheaper and easier than our current plans of paying for food and housing.


That was an ambiguous sentence in The_Shootist’s comment, I thought…I’m guessing at their intent here, but I took it to mean: otherwise they wouldn’t be [considered/termed] really poor [by the rest of society].


50 years and 5 trillion dollars and no one has been lifted out of poverty
where another didn’t fall right in. 10% poverty rate in 1960. 10% poverty
rate now. There is nothing that can be done for the poor that the poor
cannot do for themselves

Oh and it is far better to be poor in America where the poorest is
financially better off than some 90%-95% of the rest of the world. Our
poor is Western Europe’s middle class.

It’s the other way around: our middle class is worse off than Western Europe’s poor.


You know we can tell when you copy/paste text, right?


Nope. Absolutely no correlation between percentage of GDP spent on raising people out of poverty and the percentage of poverty reduced. The U.S. being both at the far bottom and the far left of the graph must be a coincidence.


So you’re saying that people are only poor because they choose to be? Please elaborate how the poor could change their circumstances. Such a plan could solve a number of problems worldwide.


Holy shit, I was thinking it would be hours, maybe a day. That’s impressive work, too bad the result was sewage.

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A quirk of the area. I kid you not, there are buried model T’s that serve as septic systems. With zero drainage arms. And the city perforated lines basically drained one aquifer into the lower one.

Ever have that feeling that you wish you didn’t know something? :sunglasses:



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It’s just good Arkansas journalism, although if you accept the story’s premise it predates formal recognition of Arkansas as a state by 900 or so years.

you’ve never actually been to Germany or France have you? The middle class
has nothing. They cannot afford a driver’s license, much less a car. They
live in tiny apartment jammed in like sardines.

From The Economist, below