conservation success?

I read an article in my local newspaper recently, titled, “Too Much Saving May Force Water Rate Hike.”  Here’s a few excerpts:

California’s water woes have compelled Peninsula and East Bay residents to conserve more water than they have at almost any time since the drought of 1992. Their reward? The biggest water-rate increase they’ve ever seen.

On May 10, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will consider tacking on a 47 percent rate increase for the water it pumps to Bay Area customers from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the lower Sierra Nevada. The agency needs to fill an unexpected revenue gap of $65 million, which it attributes to the fact that water customers outside San Francisco have been using less water and saving money on their bills…

“It’s a problem for us who are trying to do the right thing for conservation,” said Foster City Finance Director Steve Toler, who spearheaded the program. “You’re telling me, ‘Thank you very much for reducing the amount of water you use — now I need to charge you more.’ “


Last summer, officials were crying “Drought!  Drought!  Conserve water!”  So we did.  *I* did.  It takes a long time to get hot water upstairs to our shower, so I saved that water in 5 gallon buckets and used that water either for the girls’ baths or dumped it outside on plants.

When my little one was potty-training and only produced a minimal amount of output, I didn’t bother to flush every time.  And when my older one forgot to flush (or didn’t want to flush because she thinks the toilet is too loud!) I didn’t fuss about it.  As the saying goes, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down.”

And now we’re going to get punished for our conservation efforts by higher rates?

Something doesn’t quite make sense.

Although, to be fair, I can sort of see their point.

Todd Rydstrom, assistant general manager of the SFPUC, said that though water consumption has dropped, his agency’s expenses have not — especially the bond payments on its $4.6 billion Water System Improvement Program to repair, replace and upgrade pipelines and reservoirs most at risk in a major earthquake.

“You have to pay your rent, whether you spend 30 nights of the month there or whether you’re on vacation,” Rydstrom said. “For us, the debt is a fixed cost, and we have to pay that, regardless of what the water usage is.”

But still.  Something doesn’t seem quite right about this situation…


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