Disparities in Drinking Water Cost Within Los Angeles County

Disparities in Drinking Water Cost Within Los Angeles County

Gregory Pierce, J.R. DeShazo

Numerous studies have analyzed differences in drinking water cost between regions, such as Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The Los Angeles County Community Water Systems Atlas and Policy Guide  recently released by the UCLA Luskin Center, however, demonstrates that there are also substantial disparities in the cost of water to customers within Los Angeles County. We further explore the issue of local cost disparities in a policy brief entitled Disparities in Drinking Water Cost within Los Angeles County. We use 2014-2015 cost data collected from 115 community water systems, more than half of all in LA county, to perform this analysis.

Our findings show that the average annual cost of drinking water to the typical single-family residential customer was $814. This average, however, masks enormous variation in the cost incurred for the same amount of water across different systems. Average customer costs varied from $145 charged by the Maywood Mutual Water Company #1 to $2,244 charged by the California Water Service Company in Lake Hughes for 1,800 cubic feet (18 CCF) of water. In the conclusion of the policy brief, having outlined the magnitude and causes of cost inequalities across the count, we suggest potential explanations for these differences and feasible policy responses to address disparities.