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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.

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Utilities are investing more in #WaterInfrastructure. But per capita spend by water utility varies widely: From a low of $157 per person in Riverside County, California to a high of US$11,117 in Miami-Dade County (based on our 10-year forecast)…

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