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The Utah Effect: Despite arid climate, Salt Lake City has among lowest water bills

Published May 1, 2015 1:09 pm

Report • Only Memphis and Phoenix pay less.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Bone-dry Utah is populated by residents who use a lot of water, and they don't pay much for it – at least not compared to residents in the nation's biggest cities.

A new survey by Circle of Blue, an organization that teams journalists with scientists to cover water issues, conducted a survey of 30 major metro areas.

Salt Lake City had the third lowest average water bill. The only cities that paid less were Memphis and Phoenix.

A family of four in Salt Lake City, using roughly 50 gallons per day — a low amount — would pay $35.47 per month. That bill includes water, stormwater and sewer fees.

In contrast, rainy Seattle came in with the highest monthly amount, $171.48, according to a story in the Seattle Times. Atlanta was second at $150.72, and San Francisco was third at $126.51.

Generally, these bills pay for the pipes and the water treatment, but not the water itself. The more expensive areas, like Seattle, recently had major upgrades of their water systems. The cheaper areas tend to spend less on their water systems.

In Utah, these upgrades are subsidized through property taxes, and that's controversial.

The Utah Foundation released a report back in September that noted the state is the second driest in the nation and has the second highest per-capita water use.

It called for local governments to boost water bills, in part to encourage people to conserve.

Nothing has happened on that front. But with a dry winter some are worried about the state's water supply. Salt Lake City has issued a water-shortage advisory, the first step toward rationing if the situation doesn't improve.






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