California households owe $1bn in water bills as affordability crisis worsens
The magnitude of America’s water affordability crisis has been laid bare by shocking new data from California where debt owed on water bills has hit $1bn and one in every eight households is currently in arrears.
A survey by the state water board found at least 1.6m households are behind on water bill payments. The average debt is $500, but 155,000 or so households are in real trouble, owing more than $1,000 each and accounting for half the total debt.
California is America’s most populous state and even before the pandemic, a third of residents, about 13 million people, lived in poverty.
Water debt – like other poverty indicators – is not evenly distributed.