Document Type


Publication Date



In the United States today, the goal of universal water service is slipping out of reach. Water costs are rising across the country, forcing many individuals to forgo running water or sanitation, or to sacrifice other essential human rights. The fixed costs of water systems have increased in recent years, driven in part by underinvestment in infrastructure. In many cities, this has been exacerbated by population shifts and the economic downturn. In this era of increasing costs and limited financial resources, water providers struggle to balance the competing priorities of modernization and universal access. This report, researched and written by students of Georgetown Law’s Human Rights Institute in the winter of 2013, details the causes, effects, and solutions to the affordability crisis affecting water in the urban United States.