Millions of U.S. households are behind on their water bills, but the size of the debts and the number of indebted customers varies substantially.
Circle of Blue used public records requests to collect data on overdue bills from a dozen large U.S. cities.
Though businesses owe money to water departments, the majority of debts represent residential customers.
Residential water debt ranged from $341 million in Chicago to only $568,427 in San Francisco. The median residential debt for the eight cities that reported that figure ranged from $79.27 in Denver, to $216.58 in Seattle, to $415.13 in Detroit, to $662.80 in Philadelphia.
Brett writes about agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and the politics and economics of water in the United States. He also writes the Federal Water Tap, Circle of Blue’s weekly digest of U.S. government water news. He is the winner of two Society of Environmental Journalists reporting awards, one of the top honors in American environmental journalism: first place for explanatory reporting for a series on septic system pollution in the United States(2016) and third place for beat reporting in a small market (2014). He received the Sierra Club’s Distinguished Service Award in 2018. Brett lives in Seattle, where he hikes the mountains and bakes pies. Contact Brett Walton