Is Water A Right, Commodity, Or Service?


The article is based on the people who do not pay their dues of water usage. Water suppliers have to cut their supply and due to that, a question was made by Daniel Van Abs who is a well-known water policy professor at Rutgers University. He had been a part of a state owned water protection implementation body named as New Jersey Highlands Council. He was the senior director for Planning and Science there. The question which was raised by professor was that “Is water a basic right of every human or it is a commodity which should be bought at the rate currently it is available to the public or it is a service in which the state needs to provide the users their need and treat it as a social objective?”

A policy with mixed up settings has always to be made as the water supply consists of all the three facets. A problem arises when the service is being provided and the inability of people to pay for that becomes a hurdle. Although it is a right of people as well but on the other hand to rehabilitate the system and enhance the drinking water treatment and source water protection, high costs are incurred and to cover those costs, rates of water to supply the public has to be increased.

Detroit city has to face many customers who are not paying their bills and against that behavior of the customers, their officials had a protest and shut off the service of those customers. Now this shutting off of water supply caused to born another question that is it against the human rights to do so or not? This action of the city heads made the others to criticize them. Detroit is not the only city which had to take such action against the no-payers as other cities like Michigan, Hamtramck, Warren, Pontiac, Eastpointe, Romulus are facing the same kind of customers and doing the similar act to handle them and urge them to pay their dues so that the costs which are being incurred by the suppliers can be recovered.

New Jersey is a big victim of that delinquency case. Poverty rate in New Jersey is high due to which most of the industrial water customers who were not paying are not a part of the customers list now.


So, after this situation, water cannot be called a complete public service. The costs which are incurred by the supplier can be recovered through the property tax and local government can pay the costs to the water utility providers so that customers can get their right. But there is a drawback that use of water will not be efficient and government will have to make sure that water has been distributed on the basis of equality to a single person living in a house and a five member family.

Government should make a policy to give the poor customers an access to the water which is a basic need in case of high rates. The question on which this debate started about Detroit should have a reply so that Detroit does not have to face the problems which Ney Jersey has been facing.



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