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Identifying sustainable solutions for water distribution and lower water utility rates within the Village of Robbins, a primarily low-income and African-American community struggling with municipal debt. Nationally, and counterintuitively, per-gallon water bills in low-income communities are on the rise, largely due to decreased water sales resulting from local population decreases based on lack of local opportunity. With fewer people, each household must pay more to maintain the same infrastructure. Per-gallon charges are greater because the base cost of water is not the largest cost to the consumer. Further, legacy infrastructure nearing the end of its service life coupled with historically low levels of investment in infrastructure inflates costs of water service. The resultant water bill increases create issues of consumer unaffordability or an inability to pay, citywide water shut-offs, and even evictions or foreclosures due to unpaid bills. Possible measures to counteract these problems in the Village of Robbins include: (1) contracting with a firm that specializes in water/utility pricing; (2) accessing Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA) to help fund community solar power system to improve water distribution efficiency and decrease costs; (3) installing water meters; (4) improving maintenance.
A review of the city by city commitments reveals an overwhelming concern with the energy efficiency of buildings; in a few cases, particularly where the local energy utility is municipally owned, there’s a major focus on green power; all cities are committed to “lead by example” by greening their own buildings and fleets; and only in a handful are there significant commitments to reducing transportation emissions area-wide.