How a private water company brought lead to Pittsburgh’s taps

In the summer of 2015, Metropolis Magazine named Pittsburgh one of the world’s “most livable” cities and gushed about its infrastructure, “The city has more vertical feet of public stairways than San Francisco, Cincinnati, and Portland, Oregon, combined.”

But the magazine hadn’t done its research. Around the same time, the city’s water utility was laying off employees in an effort to cut costs. By the end of the year, half of the staff responsible for testing water throughout the 100,000-customer system was let go. The cuts would prove to be catastrophic. Six months later, lead levels in tap water in thousands of homes soared. The professor who had helped expose Flint, Michigan’s lead crisis took notice, “The levels in Pittsburgh are comparable to those reported in Flint.”

The cities also share something else, involvement by the same for-profit water corporation. Pittsburgh’s layoffs happened under the watch of French corporation Veolia, who was hired to help the city’s utility save money. Veolia also oversaw a change to a cheaper chemical additive that likely caused the eventual spike in lead levels. In Flint, Veolia served a similar consulting role and failed to detect high levels of lead in the city’s water, deeming it safe.

For-profit water corporations see America’s crumbling infrastructure as a business opportunity. Either they buy struggling water systems or market their services to cities like Pittsburgh that need the help. At the same time, they use their political clout to cut taxes, choking off the public money necessary to sustain vital water infrastructure. Veolia, along with other corporations like American Water, is a member of the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), which actively lobbies for lower taxes.

Last Wednesday, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced the city would provide filters for drinking water, which is the right thing to do. But he’s also considering partnering with another for-profit water company to clean up Veolia’s mess.

Partnering with corporations that must turn a profit should be off the table. For-profit water corporations will always have a financial incentive to cut service, shrug off maintenance, and fire employees. When they’re in charge, the high costs of doing business are passed on to residents: privately owned water systems charge 59 percent more than those that are publicly owned. Every public dollar that goes to executives and shareholders is a dollar that could be invested in making water clean and affordable.

Pittsburgh’s water needs democratic control and public investment, not corporate takeover.

— source by Donald Cohen

Climate change key suspect in the case of India’s vanishing groundwater

In three short months during monsoon season, India historically receives 75 percent of their annual precipitation. Imagine awaiting this promised, bountiful rainfall and receiving 14 percent less than average. This is what happened in 2015 – and it compounded decades of drought. India is suffering a water scarcity crisis but, until recently, most people believed that over pumping groundwater was the number one reason behind it. Now, a new study published by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Gandhinagar in Nature Geoscience, shows that variable monsoon precipitation, linked to climate change, is likely the key reason for declining levels of groundwater.

India’s rainfall has decreased since the 1950s. When rainfall decreases, so does the water table. By observing climate patterns and well depths, researchers found that groundwater storage dropped in northern India about two centimeters per year between 2002 and 2013. Today, groundwater irrigates over half of India’s crops, but aquifer levels are falling, threatening both water and food security.

India’s groundwater problem is detectable from space. From 2002-2013, a satellite from NASA mapped aquifers around the world. The Gravity Recovery Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite detects the Earth’s mass below it and uses this data to measure groundwater pumping. GRACE reported that 54 percent of 4,000 measured groundwater wells are declining, some dropping by more than three feet per year.

A warming world has made India’s monsoon season less predictable. During the past century, the Earth warmed 1.5 degrees, largely due to humans’ unprecedented burning of fossil fuels. What appears to be a small change in temperature is causing drastic upheavals in natural patterns. Increased atmospheric temperatures are changing wind currents and causing more frequent and intense storms. In some cases, this is also redistributing rain and intensifying drought.

In India, warmer air over the Indian Ocean has altered the path of monsoons – leaving Indian farmers high and dry the past two years in a row.

There is no singular definition for water scarcity that takes into account the availability, accessibility, and quality of potable water. However, the Falkenmark Indicator (FI) is a popular tool that measures water runoff and population to determine levels of water stress. According to the FI, a country is considered ‘water scarce’ when they have less than 1,000 cubic meters of usable water per person annually. In 2015, analysis using FI categorized India as having ‘absolute scarcity’, with less than 500 cubic meters of water per person annually.

So little water affects security. Last September, protesters set 56 busses on fire in Bengaluru when the Supreme Court ordered that Karnataka must release more water from Cauvery Dam to be used by a bordering state. Retrofitted oil trains deliver millions of liters of water to Lature, a district east of Mumbai. Madhya Pradesh, a state in Central India, deployed armed guards to protect one of its reservoirs after farmers from a neighboring state attempted to steal water last year.

Farmers are on the frontlines of the water crisis with India seeing a serious uptick in farmer suicides. Some estimates put the number of related suicides at 500 in 2015, but the central government only publicly acknowledges that 13 farmers’ suicides were related to water shortages. According to the Government of India, 52 percent of agricultural households were in debt in 2014. Heavy debts have resulted in an exodus of farmers, who are now seeking daily labor in large cities.

“Farmers invest their own borrowed money for sinking bore wells to develop agriculture,” said Secretary R.H. Sawkar of the Secretary, Geological Society of India (GSI). Bore wells are similar to tube wells, long shafts that are drilled into the earth. Electric pumps are used to draw the groundwater through the tube to the surface. Most rural farmers pay a flat fee for unlimited electricity to pump from tube wells, leading to over-pumping.

But farmers don’t have the money, tools, or know-how to drill deeper wells that can access sinking water tables. This creates a serious dilemma in areas where levels drop by almost a meter per year.

“Only rich farmers can effectively pump groundwater from deep aquifers and the urban rich can buy extra water for their luxuries like car washing, [maintaining] lawns near their residence and [using] bottled water for drinking purpose,” said Sawkar.

There are over 20 million tubewells in India today, a technology that enabled the Green Revolution in India. The Green Revolution was a global shift in agricultural production, beginning in the 1930s; it mechanized farming for developing nations and utilized new technologies, like pesticides and genetically modified crops, to feed a booming population. Developing countries could suddenly grow more food on the same amount of land.

When India gained independence in 1947 the central government – along with the Rockefeller and Ford foundations –brought the Green Revolution to India. This meant cultivation of genetically adapted, high-yielding seeds, a deluge of fertilizers, and flood irrigation. Tube-wells proved to be the best way to irrigate more land, since they reached untapped groundwater. But today, annual groundwater pumping removes at least 24 times what was consumed in the 1950s.

“India also inherited Britain’s water policies that were based on water abundance. Any landowner had the right to pump as much groundwater as they wanted… India doubled ag[riculture] productivity between 1972 and 1992 under this system,” said Trevor Birkenholtz, political ecologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Chapmaign. “In short, there was no groundwater law.”

Laissez-faire pumping is today reflected in the fact that farmers pay a single flat fee for electricity to power tubewell pumps.

The same revolution that once sustained India’s growing population is partly to blame for the cracked and barren landscape that farmers try to cultivate today. According to the World Bank, India’s population tripled since the 1960s, hitting 1.3 billion in 2015. As India continues to battle climate change and overpumping, an equitable distribution for groundwater, if it ever comes, will take considerable intervention.

“This requires strong political will to address this issue, which is lacking,” Sawker said.

Groundwater law and rulemaking falls under the purview of individual states in India. Researchers say that the central government will have a difficult time overcoming this decentralized system, if they wish to establish national water laws. To date very few politicians have fought to limit water pumping.

“No politician wants to be the one that tells farmers – who vote at rates upwards of 85 percent – that they can no longer pump groundwater at current rates,” said Birkenholtz.

It’s more likely that authorities will mandate drip irrigation or restrict the supply of electricity, perhaps through metering, to limit pumping. Using drip irrigation and gaining “more crop per drop” is an efficient alternative to flood irrigation.

Unfortunately, groundwater pumping is only half of the problem. Taking on climate change is equally important in solving India’s water scarcity. Climate change weakens monsoons, groundwater fails to recharge, wells run dry, and families go without water. The future of India’s water security, in part, rests on international agreements to combat climate change like the United Nations Paris Agreement.

“Weather is uncertain by nature, and the impacts of climate change are extremely difficult to predict at a regional level,” explained Wada. “But our research suggests that we must focus more attention on this side of the equation if we want to sustainably manage water resources for the future.”

Today, India accounts for 4.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Under the Paris Agreement, the country has committed to generating at least 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and decreasing carbon emission intensity related to GDP by 33-35 percent by 2030. This means India’s emissions will likely rise, depending on the level of its economic growth.

— source by Kayla Walsh

Nestle wants more Michigan water

Let’s start with the fact that bottled water is history’s greatest scam.

For the most part, bottled water companies take a product any American can access at the tap for pennies — at least 25% of bottled water comes from municipal drinking sources — slap it into a plastic bottle, and charge dollars for the same quantity.

America’s obsession with bottled water creates tons of plastic waste each year, and in almost every circumstances — barring instances like the Flint water crisis, for example — bottled water is entirely unnecessary.

And then let’s ask why on earth the State of Michigan should allow multinational conglomerate Nestle to make off with billions of gallons of our water each year, making serious bank while paying Michigan just a $200 administrative fee for the privilege.

It’s a perfect business set-up: Pay next to nothing for a product, throw in some marketing, and sell at an exponentially higher mark-up. It’s a business gambit so one-sided it would make Tom Sawyer blush.

Nestle has been pumping spring water for its nonsensically named “Ice Mountain” brand near Evart, Mich. — neither a region nor a state known for mountainous terrain — for about 12 years. Evart is one of three Nestle water-pumping locations in Michigan. Two years ago, the company applied for an increase in the amount of water it is permitted to pump at one of its wells from 150 to 400 gallons per minute, but at present, the company is allowed to pump 218 gallons per minute, a limit that is the result of a lawsuit filed by conservationists. So its apparent solution is to increase the siphoning from a different well in the area.

This 167% increase would be a much larger draw on the state’s water resources.

Despite the frivolity of the bottled water industry, it’s clearly here to stay. Bottled water revenue is more than $15 billion per year, with substantial annual increases expected.

But we need to get smart about it.

After perfunctorily greenlighting Nestle’s request last year, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is taking a longer look at the company’s request for a permit increase. At the behest of new director, Heidi Grether, MDEQ has extended the public comment period for the request and asked the company to provide further documentation that its stepped-up pumping operation wouldn’t cause harm to Evart or its environs

That’s what MDEQ ought to be doing, and we’re glad to see Grether’s instincts, in this case, are good.

Because Nestle owns the wells it’s pumping, the company pays just $200 in administrative fees to authorize its groundwater extraction, plus a $5,000 one-time-fee for permit application review.

And that’s the bigger problem here — a regulatory framework, created before bottled water became a multi-billion industry, that tends to assume Michiganders would pump groundwater for personal, municipal or direct business use.

Groundwater isn’t regulated like surface water; rather, its use is governed by an old principle that allows “reasonable use” of groundwater, as long as that use doesn’t permanently alter the availability or accessibility of water for other users. Does extracting drinking water violate that standard? Well … it’s hard to say.

Thus far, Nestle’s water extraction hasn’t seemed to limit or harm the availability of water for Evart and the surrounding area. But some experts note that because Ice Mountain water is shipped out of state, it’s not returned to the water table — and while Nestle’s application says that increased water withdrawal will have “minimal” impact on nearby streams, some critics have noted that any pumping operation should have no effect on Michigan’s water supply.

Fresh water is one of Michigan’s most valuable assets. Any conversation about the scarcity or value of Michigan’s water should take into account that clean, potable water will become an increasingly valuable resource.

But fresh water is also one of Michigan’s most marketable commodities.

Balanced against this, of course, is jobs. Nestle’s Stanwood plant employs about 200; a planned $36-million expansion would create about 20 additional jobs. In a county of just 43,000, that’s a lot.

Balancing our state’s future — safeguarding our resources and our environment — with our economic interests is the reason we have regulation. And it’s the kind of nuts-and-bolts work lawmakers should embrace. There’s a solution here, if only they’ll chose to find it.

— source by Nancy Kaffer

Flint Residents Could Lose Their Homes Over Unpaid Bills for Poisoned Water

The city of Flint, where the pipes have still not been fixed and the water crisis is ongoing, is threatening to place tax liens on people’s homes for non-payment of water bills, according to a local news source. NBC affiliate 25News reported Tuesday that more than 8,000 people have received notice from the city that they are “at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure if they don’t pay up on their water bills” by May 19.

— source

How is Coke-Pepsi boycott in Tamil Nadu linked to concern over groundwater depletion?

From March 1, most of the members of the trade organisations in Tamil Nadu stopped selling soft drinks made by multinational companies. According to the trade organisations, the manufacturers of soft drinks waste a lot of water for making beverages. This is unacceptable to them since Tamil Nadu has been reeling under drought. Boycotting these products, according to them, will not only help drought-hit farmers in the state, but also curb the excess use of water by soft drink manufacturers.

In January 2017, Tamil Nadu was declared drought-hit. The then chief minister O Panneerselvam declared every district of the state drought-hit owing to the failure of the northeast monsoon in 2016 and reports of farmers’ deaths. About 144 farmers reportedly died in the state between October 1 and December 31, 2016 due to crop failure.

On March 2, 2017, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court dismissed PILs against supply of water from the Thamirabarani River to co-packers of Pepsi and Coca-Cola. The petitioners had argued that agriculture is the main source of income for people in Tirunelveli and due to supply of water to the companies, the agricultural activity and livelihood of the people was getting affected.

There were media reports stating that the idea of boycotting sale of soft drinks was conceived during pro-jallikattu protests in January, after it was claimed that the US-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) was responsible for the Supreme Court order on banning the bull-taming sport.

The protest is not new in Tamil Nadu

In April 2015, Coca-Cola had to scrap its plan for setting up a new bottling plant at Perundurai in Tamil Nadu following local protests. In November 2015, hundreds of villagers, who were against the drawing of water from the Thamirabarani River, protested in front of the SIPCOT Industrial Growth Centre in Gangaikondan village in Tirunelveli after the state government allowed PepsiCo to build a factory there.

How do beverage manufacturers defend themselves?

On August 25, 2015, a press release by the Coca-Cola and its bottling partners asserted that they are on track to meet 2020 water replenishment goal by the end of 2015. According to media reports, the company is replenishing about 94 per cent of the water used in its finished beverages based on 2014 sales volume.

Between 2004 and 2015, Coca-Cola reportedly replenished about 153.6 billion litre of water through 209 community water projects in 61 countries.

The official website of Coca-Cola also stated, “Our systemwide water efficiency has improved for 13 consecutive years. When we started this journey in 2004, we were using 2.7 litres of water to make 1 litre of product. That means that 1 litre of water is in the product and another 1.7 litres is used in the manufacturing process, mostly for keeping equipment clean. Today, we are using 1.98 litres of water to make 1 litre of product and we’re working to reduce it to 1.7 liters of water per litre of product (a 25 per cent improvement) by 2020.”

However, the company has faced crises in India due to mismanagement of water resources.

Water-neutrality claim misleading on many fronts

Many of Coca-Cola’s rainwater harvesting initiatives do not work because they are ill-maintained. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), in a 2008 study, looked at Coca-Cola’s operations in six areas, including Mehdiganj. It described Coca-Cola’s rainwater harvesting structures as “dilapidated”.

Year Location Issue
2005 Kerala Government authorities forcibly closed a bottling plant
2014 (April) Uttarakhand A proposed plant was cancelled
2014 (August) Uttar Pradesh Government refused to allow a fully-built expansion plant to operate in Varanasi
2016 (January) Rajasthan Sustained campaign against Coca-Cola led to the company stopping production at its bottling plant in Kala Dera in Jaipur

According to Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center, the claim of water-neutrality made by the beverage company is “misleading”. He had substantiated his views in an article published in Global Research.

Water, according to him, is a local issue and the impact of aquifer depletion is borne by the local communities and farmers who depend upon it to meet their water needs. “When Coca-Cola extracts water from a depleted aquifer in Varanasi or Jaipur and replenishes an aquifer hundreds of miles away from the point of extraction, it doesn’t help in reviving the local aquifer which the company depletes through bottling operations,’ he adds.

Pointing out the strategy used by PepsiCo, Srivastava says, “The company is outsourcing water conservation measures and taking credit for it. It is certainly helping farmers in Maharashtra, Punjab and other states to buy technology for direct seeding—a methodology by which farmers save much water, but that doesn’t absolve them from their responsibility of putting their house in order. They need to address the issue of excess water usage in their plants.”

Amount of water used to manufacture beverages is much more than water used in bottling plants

“There are two ways that we (and Coca-Cola) look at water use. One is the simplistic manner in which the water that goes directly into the product at the point of production at the bottling plant. By this calculation, the company used 9 litres of water to make 1 litre of Coca-Cola in and around the year 2000. That was the time the first campaign against it for water abuses started. Today, Coca-Cola claims to have reduced this water use ratio in India to about 1.9 or so,” says Srivastava.

According to him, the more meaningful way to assess the actual water consumption is to look at the water used in the life-cycle of the product.

Water consumption based on raw materials used (Per 500ml beverage)
Source of sugar Litres of water consumed
Sugarcane from Cuba 309  (highest consumption)
Sugarcane from Pakistan 283
Sugarcane from India 221
Beet sugar from Iran 241
Beet sugar from Russia 206
Beet sugar from USA 194
Beet sugar from Spain 185
Beet sugar from Italy 184
Beet sugar from France 170
Beet sugar from the Netherlands 169 (lowest consumption)

Source: Water Footprint Network

“The Water Footprint Network has measured the water footprint – which takes into account the water used in the life cycle of products. It has estimated that it takes 442 litres of water to make one litre of ‘Sugar-Containing Carbonated Beverage’ using cane sugar (which is the case in India), and 618 litres of water to make one litre of the same product using High Fructose Corn Syrup,” Srivastava points out.

How is this assessment important? Srivastava has an answer, “This is particularly important in India because according to our calculations, Coca-Cola is the largest purchaser of sugar in the country. The point is, if Coca-Cola did not buy all that sugar in India, would someone else buy it? We think not, and so Coca-Cola’s procurement of sugar in India has to be factored in when looking at its water use.”

— source by Subhojit Goswami

Who will pay for America’s quiet water crisis?

When Elizabeth Mack wondered about a future in which Americans wouldn’t be able to pay for water, a couple of colleagues waved her off. “Don’t be ridiculous,” they said. But the idea niggled at Mack, an assistant professor at the Department of Geography, Environment and Spatial Sciences at Michigan State University. And in January, in an article published in the science journal PLOS ONE, she asks a new question: Is there a burgeoning water affordability crisis in the United States?

Mack, along with research assistant Sarah Wrase, determined that if water rates increase at projected amounts over the next five years, the percentage of households that can’t pay their water bills could triple from 11.9% to more than a third. Nearly 14 million households nationwide already struggle to afford water services. An additional 27.18 million—or 8.5% of the country’s population—could soon face the same challenges.

“I don’t think we think about this, about what it would mean to not have running water,” Mack told Fusion. Of course, some Americans have experienced it. Water affordability is becoming an increasingly critical issue in cities across the country, including Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, and Detroit. In Philadelphia, an estimated four out of 10 water accounts are past due. Atlanta and Seattle have some of the highest water rates in the country. And in Detroit, a campaign to cut off delinquent residents has stopped water and sewage service for 50,000 households since 2014. It’s a reality Mack thinks Americans in other parts of the country could face.

“Any place with shrinking city characteristics, any city where we have a hollowing out of a downtown core that used to be quite vibrant” could be in trouble, she said. That’s the case in Detroit, where a declining population has left fewer households to shoulder the costs of water services.

The cost of replacing water systems built around World War II are projected at more than $1 trillion over the next 25 years across the country. Prices will be even higher if cities tap private companies to provide water services because they tend to charge higher rates than public providers. A majority of Americans get their water from public providers, but in Atlanta, where the privatization of water services in part drove up water expenses, the service costs $325.52 per month. Households must make at least about $87,000 for that to be affordable.

Because public utilities can only charge customers as much money as it takes it takes to recoup their costs, Mack said, it can be harder for them to finance new infrastructure—but their rates also tend to be lower than private providers that don’t have the same constraints. Still, a 2014 report by Corporate Accountability International and Public Services International Research Unit questioned whether its appropriate to tap private companies to shore up infrastructure projects. “No matter how the private sector frames its intentions, its priority is market development over community development, profit maximization over the public interest,” the report states.

Other drivers behind rising water prices include increasingly rigorous water quality standards, said Laura Feinstein, a senior research associate at the Pacific Institute, a global water think tank based in Oakland. As federal laws are updated to reflect new contaminants, water utilities have to spend more money to treat the water to keep it safe for consumers. Extreme weather events associated with climate change, such as droughts and floods, are also expensive for the systems to manage.

But there are ways for both providers and people to curb costs, she said. As utilities look for new water sources to accommodate population growth, they can turn to storm water capture or gray water reuse instead of costlier dams, reservoirs, and desalination plants. And utilities should be mindful that per capita water use doesn’t necessarily increase as populations do thanks to more efficient appliances and cultural shifts among residents who might water their lawns less.

“In reality, per person water use just keeps going down over time, at least in California,” Feinstein said.

Some utilities have worked to develop effective bill discount programs to focus their efficiency programs on lower-income customers. Offering a rebate for a low-flush toilet, for example, is only an option for people who can already pay for a big investment like that, Feinstein said. But giving customers a discount upfront makes it more affordable.

Water affordability is already a serious challenge for low-income people in the United States, Feinstein said. In one study that looked at a sample of communities in California, the institute found that about 5% of households had incomes under $10,000 and were spending around 5% of their income on water.
In California, at least, laws restraining public utilities from hiking rates higher than the cost of recovery can also hamper efforts to offer discounts to low-income customers, Feinstein said, “because they can’t charge more affluent customers a little more in order to fund low-income discounts.”

For people already living in poverty—40% of the population in Detroit—any increase in a water cost will strain a family’s finances, said Randy Block, director of the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network. He and others in the faith community are trying to raise money to help needy residents pay for water. He thinks water should be recognized as a human right in Michigan just as the United Nations General Assembly defined it in 2010. He likened the city shutting off water for delinquent customers to a war on poverty, and he believes similar skirmishes will play out across the country as income inequality grows.

“Detroit is the canary in a coal mine,” Block said.

Mark Fancher, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan, said unaffordable water has been a “pretty massive problem” in Detroit for 10-15 years. The practical result of shut-offs, he said, is residents relocating. While there are hardship extensions for residents who have fallen behind on their bills but are also suffering from a serious medical condition, according to Fancher, the system could be a lot better: Residents often don’t know about it, or their applications are denied. Other times, they might receive bills for water they didn’t use or not get the bills at all, he said.

“The argument has been made that an affordability plan for the city of Detroit would be a really helpful thing for the struggling utility,” Fancher said. “Because even though people who take advantage of it may not be paying full market rate for water, they’ll be paying more than nothing, which will at least bring in some significant amount of money that right now they’re not getting at all.”

He questioned how seriously the city is interested in water affordability. The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department did not respond to questions about water affordability and shut-offs in the city, but The Detroit News reported last month that officials expect a new rate structure that rewards low water use will reduce the burden on low-income residents. In turn, said Marcus Hudson, the department’s chief financial officer, their probability of paying will increase.

Mack thinks that governments, utilities, and consumers will need to work together to solve the growing problem of water affordability.

“How can we fix this infrastructure and how can we finance it together?” she said. She cautions against alarmist responses to her study, which, she said, “is not meant to be an activist piece.” Rather, she said her research highlights a quiet water crisis that many Americans are aware of in developing countries but don’t consider in the United States. She doesn’t think anyone appreciates the scope of infrastructure problems here and, she said, Americans should be watching Detroit warily.

“I would hazard a guess that most people don’t know how much water they use,” she said. “I’d encourage them to do some self-education.”

Feinstein is agnostic on whether it’s an increasing problem. The article, leaning on the Environmental Protection Agency’s average consumption estimates, assumes the average household uses 12,000 gallons per month. “That might be more than people really need to meet their basic needs,” she said.

But she agrees that water affordability is a problem. Other countries, such as France, Australia, and South Africa have better programs in place to make sure low-income residents can pay for water, Feinstein said. She thinks California is leading the way with legislation that calls for the State Water Resources Control Board to study how to develop low-income assistance rates statewide. As far as she knows, it would be the first such program of its kind if it’s implemented but, she said, it should a nationwide.

“When people don’t have access to the water that they need, it compromises their health. It means they end up having to make choices between paying for things like medical care and paying for food and paying for water,” Feinstein said. “Water is essential for life. People should be able to get the water they need a price they can afford it.”

— source by Ciara O’Rourke