Water unaffordable for millions of Americans

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/01/17/water-unaffordable-for-million.html


Is there a link for this study?


Is there a link for this study?


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This doesn’t really make sense. Maybe I’m missing something (like the link to the actual study), but isn’t water affordability a function both of income AND cost of water?


The funny part is, water being a necessity of life, the utilities cant quite just shut it off if you don’t pay. And then the price goes up again for the paying customers…


Maybe turning it off IS what’s funny in Donaldtown.


Living as I do in one of the “at risk” areas [1], our water bill for three adults, three cats, and a garden came to $43 (water and sewer) last month. The (small) city has programs to subsidize marginal households – and if $14 per capita is “marginal,” you are waaaay down the curve even for a low-income area like this (median per-capita income less than $30K)

[1] Central NM

We had a case here a few years ago where the electricity company cut off the power to a house. Nothing too unusual there, I guess (it happened to me a couple of times when I was a student) except this particular house contained a very sick woman and the medical equipment keeping her alive. She died.

The company made the usual victim-blaming excuses (no one told us/they didn’t pay the bill/she shouldn’t have been so sick/we warned them) and anyway in a surprise bonus plot twist^ the woman was from a minority group.

ISTR the company got a PR bollocking, the social welfare services got slapped around with a wet bus ticket, and then the world went on turning.

The great thing about water, from a corporation’s perspective, is that unlike electricity it’s a slow motion killer. If you don’t have clean water the link between that and premature death isn’t sufficiently obvious that a tea party or Drumpf voter could grasp it. And besides, there’s always water around if you’re sufficiently motivated - in a ditch, in a puddle, in that stack of old tires. You just need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and stop asking for a handout.

^ not really. If you hadn’t guessed she was a minority already you haven’t been paying attention to the world these last few years. Actual surprise bonus plot twist though: at the time the company was govt owned.

edit: got off my ass and found the story. 9 years ago. Wow.


Whenever I am asked to look at the future I start thinking about selling everything I own and living in some hermit cave in the national forest, or digging an underground bunker in that little patch of woods trapped between the highway and the off-ramp.


Sorry. Those have already been claimed by Trump Industries for its Make America Great Again Affordable Housing Initiative.


Nowadays we frame this as a problem involving low income households not being able to afford water. Fifty years ago we would have framed the problem as government agencies not being able to provide enough water at modest prices. Of course, back then, government spending was a good thing and even rich people were willing to pay taxes to live in a civilized society.



I moved to where the water is. Seems to work, as a strategy.

I’ll be right next door


Here’s a pic of mine.


You would think so, but a good number of the cities in the Great Lakes have among the highest water rates in the nation. Most notable among these is Flint. http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/sites/default/files/water_rate_survey-ranking.pdf


Yeah, good point. Sometimes people move to where the water is, and then it gets polluted into undrinkability… not something that has to happen, but it sure does, with depressing frequency.


Water is a necessity that literally no one can live without for very long.


I have several PLoS papers, and I don’t think something being published in PLoS is a reason to disregard it. For my PLoS papers, I published them there for several reasons:

  1. I work at the intersection of 3 fields, and there’s no journal that serves all three, and that all three read. So PLoS gave more exposure.
  2. One was really incremental progress, and the journal that was its natural home has ‘significance’ as a highly-ranked criterion for publication.
  3. One was invited as part of a set.

None of those pertained to the quality of the research. And, frankly, I think PLoS gets hit way too hard on quality. I just saw the final version of a paper I reviewed in a high-impact journal (think PNAS level) today. They didn’t make any of my changes, which means that most of the paper is completely invalid. But it’s going to be highly-cited as gospel because of where it was published. PLoS has all the flaws of a peer-review system. Because it serves all fields, it gets shit on in aggregate, as opposed to all of us quietly shitting on it in lab meetings.

I also know everyone involved in this exchange, and I don’t think any of them would approve of their tweets being used to dismiss someone’s work on anything other than scientific merit.


In truth you haven’t polled anybody. I can make up things too. It’s really easy.