Cicero once said the conniving Cataline would try and conquer the Roman Senate “non aqua, sed ruina”, not with water but with ruin. Many Who Dats may be feeling a bit conquered today by the recently lifted boil alert for drinking water(1).
That a major American city has this problem is not unique and neither are the brain-dead “solutions” offered by locals including the Sewerage and Water Board. Their solution is to double the water bills, raise $3.5 billion(2) and then begin the repairs. This would leave the water then in the hands of the same people currently mismanaging it.
But why leave life-giving water in the hands of bureaucrats who can’t even manage their own cafeterias(3)? The fact is, tap water in the United States is the most heavily subsidized “utility” there is and this helps explains why so many water systems like New Orleans are in such dire need of repair.
In fact, public-water utility customers face infrastructure-funding gap of $11 billion per year … for the next twenty years. If such costs are passed through to consumers, 22% of American households would pay more than 4% of their income for water(4).
So the dude on the muffler commercials is right, “you can pay me now or pay me later” the only problem is the pay me later solution delivers less reliable water with subsidies we can no longer afford. The prudent thing for the City of New Orleans to do then is to repeal any laws standing in the way to making the Crescent city a haven for water innovation.
This does not mean to “privatize” the system, I say keep the public utility open but let ANYONE who wishes to compete with it for customers do just that. If recent history is any guide though, I fully expect the City to choose ruin and soon “ruins” over water.
(4) http://www.esrresearch.com/Theprivatewaterindustry.htm According the the Hudson Group “THE WATER INDUSTRY FACES ENORMOUS CAPITAL INVESTMENT REQUIREMENTS Much of the capital infrastructure of the water industry is at or beyond its useful service life. An infrastructure-funding gap of $11 billion per year is projected for the next twenty years. If such costs are passed through to consumers, 22% of American households would pay more than 4% of their income for water – a hardship level according to EPA benchmarks.”