Arguably one of the most underplayed issues we face is the availability of water. In an on-demand world, many of us expect things to just be there. But with the ongoing droughts across many parts of the U.S., the media seems to picking up on how it’s hitting people in the pocketbook. USATODAY analyzed water bills across the country and found rates at least doubled in more than twenty-five percent of the locations, with some even tripling.
The report also cited survey results that U.S. water systems will need as much as $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements by 2035 to stay up with current trends. The map to the left shows some of the areas where rates have risen the most. Curiously, some of the most drought-stricken regions don’t seem to be represented.
A few other things jumped out from the piece.
“U.S. homeowners who reduce their water consumption in an effort to save money can cut their costs. But they may end up raising the rates they’re charged. Why? Because water suppliers collect less income as consumption drops, but ongoing costs — such as bonding debt, salaries and chemicals — either increase or, at best, remain stable.”
No hefty calculations required to realize that’s a little backwards. The model for water districts and municipalities needs to be configured to incentivize customers. In West Texas, Midland appears to be getting the message.
“In March, the Midland, Texas, City Council unanimously imposed a five-fold price increase on water customers who use more than 10,000 gallons per month, which surpasses consumption for a typical family.”
But we’re still a bit baffled. How can customers use 10,000 gallons of water per month? We’re a family of four and we’ve been aggressive enough to stay below 500 gallons. What gives? We’ll detail some of the things we do in another segment.
We picked these up from some friends of ours on the East Side of Austin. They used to be food-grade storage barrels, but now we’re doing the rain dance! We’re probably going to paint them, but before that, we’re planning to drill some holes and add a spigot for irrigation. Stay tuned.
Even though we’re buying more efficient light bulbs these days, a new poll shows Americans are still in the dark when it comes to saving energy.
Here’s a few highlights from the research, funded by a grant to the AP-NORC Center from the Joyce Foundation.
“Only 1 in 3 reports knowing a lot or a great deal about the government’s Energy Star product labels, which are meant to help consumers choose energy-efficient appliances and other products. Even fewer, 25 percent, report detailed knowledge about fuel- efficiency standards for cars. Not even 20 percent know a lot or a great deal about rebates for energy-saving products, home renovation tax credits or home energy audits.”
And what about this one.
“About 6 in 10 people cite lack of knowledge about energy-saving products as a major reason they don’t do more to conserve.”
This was a bit grim. Apparently we’ve reached what you might call peak fish. WWF’s report says government-imposed limits are likely the best measure. I just don’t have a lot of confidence when it comes to global enforcement, however.