Why Isn’t Water Free?

If you open Google and search the phrase “why isn’t water,” The following suggestions appear as the most common search results:

Why isn’t water wet?
Why isn’t water flammable?
Why isn’t water CANNED??

All valid questions, but one search result sticks out as more important to understand than the rest:

Why isn’t water free?

The earth is 71 percent water. The human body is 60 percent water. Cucumbers are 95 percent water! With water presenting itself as the quintessential basic human necessity, why do we have to pay for it?

Because making water safe to drink costs money.

Rivers, streams, lakes, oceans, and countless other bodies of water supply a free-flowing, seemingly endless amount of water at no cost. But, what you’ll save in money, you will eventually end up paying for with your health. And that’s why we pay for water.

For health and safety.

In the early twentieth century, mortality rates declined nearly 40 percent in the most rapid period of time documented in U.S. history. There is almost a direct correlation between this increase in life expectancy and the development of more sophisticated water filtration systems. In short—advancements in creating safe drinking water are some of the most valuable inventions in human history.

Water, in its most natural state, is sadly not fit for human consumption. With the risk of exposure to bacteria, protozoa, and pathogens that call water home, the risk of drinking untreated water far outweighs the money you might save on your monthly water payment.

The water that we drink, cook with, shower in, and live our lives using does not purify itself, does not source itself, and does not transport itself into your local water system. Each step in the water process, from sourcing to delivering, costs money to provide.

Water transportation, purification, research, development, and other processes ensure that clean, safe water is delivered to those who need it. But if we want to continue to have clean water and continue to advance water system technology, we must recognize its life-giving value.

So, the next time you have a bad day and take a 30-minute shower or decide to make lemonade for a cool summer treat, take an extra moment to think about how that water got to you. We’re not just “paying the water bill.” We are paying for the peace of mind and the convenience of life that having safe, clean water readily available provides.