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The Cost of Water: Comparing Alternative and Legacy Water Supplies in the U.S.

06 April 2017
Data Insight

The cost of traditional water supplies — water rights, new transmission, and reservoirs — are on the rise. In response to water shortages, municipalities and utilities are tapping alternative water supplies, some of which are more cost-effective than traditional sources.

In the current water supply landscape in which water rates are expected to rise, wastewater reuse is proving to be cost-competitive against other alternative solutions. Desalination costs have also come down significantly with the introduction of reverse osmosis technology.

In this Data Insight, Bluefield water experts:

  • analyze the impact of water demand on alternative sources
  • compare costs of traditional and alternative water supplies
  • provide an outlook for changes to water supply costs
  • examine costs of transmission, reuse, stormwater, reclaimed water, and desalination

Learn more about our US & Canada Municipal Water Insight Service.


  • A cost convergence is underway between more traditional water supplies (e.g. reservoirs, transfers) and alternative sources (e.g. reuse, desalination).
  • In the current water supply landscape in which water rates are expected to rise, wastewater reuse is proving to be cost competitive against other alternative solutions.
  • The cost of traditional water supplies– water rights, new transmission, reservoirs– are on the rise. In many cases, the most economical siting options have already been utilized.

Related Bluefield Analysis

Municipal Wastewater Reuse in Florida: Market Trends & Emerging Opportunities Installed wastewater reuse capacity in Florida has grown 52% since 2000, reaching 6.6 million m3/d in 2014. These installations place the state at the forefront of US wastewater reuse adoption. Looking forward, Bluefield's analysis of more than 500 existing facilities and another 86 planned faciliti...
US Municipal Wastewater Reuse: Project Pipeline and Segmentation Analysis, 2017-2030 Water reuse is moving outside of arid and drought-prone areas as a sustainable water supply strategy. For the first time, Hawaii, Georgia, Wyoming, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee have water reuse projects in Bluefield's database. California accounts for 48% of planned reuse projects with ...
California Water Portfolio Poised for Makeover On 1 April 2015 California’s governor announced a mandatory reduction of water usage by the state's 372 water suppliers in urban areas serving more than 3,000 customers or delivering more than 3,000 acre-feet per year. The cuts– 25% below 2013 levels– follow 20% voluntary cuts in 2014 that were only...

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