Monday, June 30, 2008

We must conserve water, but will it save us money?

We must conserve water. If we do not conserve during a drought, we could run out of water, or have cloudy water as the water systems pump from the bottom of the lake.

We do conserve water so, of course, we should be saving money on our water bills. But now we find out that our per unit rates may go up. That’s horrible! Why should we be paying more per gallon when we use fewer gallons?

What people must understand–but many do not understand–is that the water rate, or price per gallon, must go up as we conserve water and use fewer gallons.

The cost of the water services is based on the cost of facilities–the reservoir, treatment facility, and pipes to our homes–and the maintenance of these facilities. Only a small part is based on the amount of water used. As we conserve water we use fewer gallons per month. The cost of maintaining existing facilities and building new facilities remains the same, so the cost per gallon will increase.

The bottom line: Households who conserve the same as the average household will eventually find that their monthly bills are the same as previous bills. Those who conserve more than the average will see decreasing bills; those who conserve less than the average will see increasing bills.

When it comes to water pipes, “we must pay the piper.”

John A. Shaw
Cary, NC