In 1988 the City changed the method for collecting water and sewer charges from a system based on the amount of building frontage, to a system based on metered charges determined by actual water usage. It would have been fair to presume that this change would distribute the cost of using water equitably and encourage the conservation of a scarce natural resource. In reality, however, the cost of water now has less to do with the amount consumed and more to do with the enormous cost of the infrastructure required to deliver it.

In this Urban Prospect, author Harold Shultz examines the economics of water distribution and demand in New York City.

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By Harold Shultz