California's Water: Water: The Best Deal Around

Water is essential to our daily lives, but few people stop to consider its value and importance, especially when compared to bottled water and other everyday products. Tap water costs less than a penny a gallon, but like many basic services, that cost is going up. 

In “Water: The Best Deal Around,” Howser visits the West Basin Municipal Water District and Las Virgenes Municipal Water District to highlight key aspects of providing reliable water and some factors driving the cost, including the rising costs of energy, treatment chemicals and the need to expand and replace facilities. Read more below.


Safe and reliable water is a true bargain considering the energy, extensive delivery system and expertise required to capture, treat and deliver water to homes and businesses in the state, day in and day out.
Depending on where you live in California, your water may come from a nearby well or river. Or it may travel hundreds of miles through canals or pipelines to reach your tap. Regardless of where it originates, your tap water is filtered, cleaned, tested and distributed in an exhaustive process that produces some of the highest quality drinking water in the nation and the world. The cost of delivering that water to your tap has increased in recent years for several reasons:
  • Rising treatment costs. Increasingly stringent drinking water regulations have made it necessary for many water suppliers to invest in costly new treatment technologies. That adds to the cost of providing water.
  • Aging water infrastructure. Many local and regional water systems were built decades ago. Repairing and upgrading aging systems to ensure reliable water supplies can account for a significant portion of monthly water bills.
  • Increasing energy costs. It takes lots of electricity to pump, treat and deliver water. Rising costs for energy directly affect the cost of delivering water to consumers.
  • Controlling invasive species. Debilitating invasive species such as quagga mussels, which can clog waterways and distribution systems, have been an unforeseen strain on water agencies’ budgets, especially in the last five years. 
  • Investing in new supplies. Local water agencies are investing billions of dollars in local strategies such as water recycling and conservation to stretch supplies and increase reliability.
  • Comprehensive water service. Besides delivering safe, reliable water day, water agencies are responsible for providing other services, such as responding to incidents, monitoring and testing, ongoing maintenance and investments, safety communications, and planning for future needs.