Would teamwork fix our fragmented system of water utilities? : The Indicator from Planet Money Water utilities in the United States could gain from economies of scale: localized infrastructure can be inefficient and lead to outages in places like Jackson, Miss. But in practice, it's complicated.

For sponsor-free episodes of The Indicator from Planet Money, subscribe to Planet Money+ via Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org.

Water works (except when it doesn't)

Water works (except when it doesn't)

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1140189049/1141110828" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

David Koehn, general manager of the Black Bayou Water Association in Mississippi, inspects a glass of tap water. Stephan Bisaha for NPR hide caption

toggle caption
Stephan Bisaha for NPR

David Koehn, general manager of the Black Bayou Water Association in Mississippi, inspects a glass of tap water.

Stephan Bisaha for NPR

In many parts of the United States, water is something people take for granted: you turn on the tap, and there it is, clean and safe to drink. But the infrastructure that brings water from the ground to your faucet is much more complicated in the states than it is in many other countries. It relies on thousands of chronically underfunded local utilities, which results in higher costs and more outages, especially in places like Jackson, Mississippi.

Today, reporter Stephan Bisaha from the Gulf States newsroom, a collaboration of public radio stations in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, brings us to Mississippi to hear from two water industry insiders with radically different plans to fix the broken system.

Music by Drop Electric. Find us: Twitter / Facebook / Newsletter.

Subscribe to our show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, PocketCasts and NPR One.

For sponsor-free episodes of The Indicator from Planet Money, subscribe to Planet Money+ via Apple Podcasts or at plus.npr.org.

Correction Dec. 6, 2022

In an earlier version of this episode we erroneously attributed quotes from Tom Rooney, speaking in a panel at a recent water conference at Columbia University, to the panel moderator Alex Loucopoulos.