Close to 3,300 water cooperatives in the U.S. are consumer-owned utilities formed to provide safe, reliable and sustainable water service at a reasonable cost. They provide drinking, fire protection and landscaping irrigation water. In addition, many of them provide wastewater services. Water cooperatives are most often found in suburban and rural areas that are located too far from municipal water companies to receive service.
Most water cooperatives are small (serving 501 - 3,300 consumers) or very small (serving fewer than 500 consumers). Eighty-nine percent of the population that is served by public water systems is served by either a publicly owned, municipal water system or a cooperative utility. The remaining 11% of Americans are served by privately owned water systems. Nonprofit cooperatives are the most common organizational form in very small communities.