A recent study from Nus Consulting Group revealed that the average business district/commercial water user saw rates rise 5.5 percent in 2011 when compared to 2010. However, in several cities, water and sewer rate increases were considerably higher. For instance:
• Indianapolis, Indiana, business owners were paying 12 percent more for water now compared to 2010.
• Kansans City, Kansas, saw a 15.3 percent jump.
• Atlanta, Georgia, charges went up 12 percent.
• Seattle, Washington, prices were up 11 percent.
• Portland, Oregon, had a 9 percent increase.
• New York City experienced a 7.5 percent uptick in water charges.

The study also identified those cities with the most expensive and the least costly water and sewer rates. The five cities with the highest water/sewer rates in the United States in 2011:
• Atlanta, Georgia
• Seattle, Washington
• Newport, Rhode Island
• San Francisco, California
• Portland, Oregon

And the lowest:
• Biloxi, Mississippi
• El Paso, Texas
• Memphis, Tennessee
• Chicago, Illinois
• Greenville, South Carolina

"There does not appear to be a specific reason why some [business customers] in certain cities pay more for water or experienced bigger cost increases than others," says Klaus Reichardt, Founder and CEO of Waterless Co., LLC. "However, what we do know is this: water/sewer charges are on an upward climb with no end in sight."

Reichardt suggests the first step in dealing with increased water charges is to simply look for places where water is being wasted-for instance, faucets that leak-and repair them.

"One leaky faucet can waste 3,000 gallons of water per year," he says. "That's costly and wasteful. [We] have to get much more water careful and responsible about our water use."