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Poor Customers Pay the Price for America's Crumbling Water Infrastructure

Overwhelmed by dilapidated pipes, more cities are privatizing their water systems. But is anyone winning besides corporations?
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employees assess the damage caused by a ruptured water main at the area where two pipes, one from 1921 and the other from 1956, meet, on July 30, 2014.
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employees assess the damage caused by a ruptured water main at the area where two pipes, one from 1921 and the other from 1956, meet, on July 30, 2014. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

More than a quarter of Coatesville, Pennsylvania’s 13,133 residents live below the poverty line. Abandoned buildings are rampant. With high unemployment, the tax base is dwindling.

And yet, many residents of Coatesville are paying hundreds of dollars for their monthly water service. That’s as much as people living in large, wealthy cities like San Francisco cough up.