NACWA 2018 Cost of Clean Water Index Now Available, Service Charge Increase Again Outpaces Inflation

NACWA’s 2018 Cost of Clean Water Index indicates that the average cost of wastewater services rose 3.9 percent in 2018, surpassing the increase in the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the 17th consecutive year.

According to the Index, the national average amount that a single-family residence pays for wastewater collection and treatment is now $504 per year.  The average wastewater service charge has doubled since 2003.

NACWA’s Index has tracked annual changes in the cost of providing wastewater services since 1985, when the national average wastewater service charge was $102.75. But the national average only tells part of the story and the Index provides additional information to better capture the differences among EPA regions, which are influenced by demographics, geography, and a range of other issues.  For 2018, the average service charge by EPA Region varies from a low of $289 in EPA Region 8 to a high of $915 in EPA Region 1. The values in the 2018 Index are based on the responses from 174 NACWA members serving a total of over 109 million people.

The results from the 2018 Index indicate that for the foreseeable future we will continue to see increasing service charges, with responding utilities expecting average rates to continue to increase from 3.3 to 3.7 percent per year for the next five years. Consent decree requirements for capital infrastructure and associated costs of debt-financing and aging infrastructure were some of the top reasons cited by respondents for projected rate increases greater than 20 percent (over 5 years). Other drivers for large rate increases include an expected rise in operation and maintenance costs and regulatory requirements associated with nutrients.

NACWA thanks its Member Agencies who took time to respond to the survey. Data collection for the 2019 Index will begin this fall.