hydrangea blossoming

hydrangea blossoming
Hydrangea on the Edge of Blooming

Monday, March 14, 2011

Water Everywhere; Not?

This week, the news is out that we can look for significant water rate increases in the near future as Vancouver is upping the price of water (Vancouver is from where we get water) over the next five years, it predicts, in a substantial way..starting with 15%.  It does seem to me that an increase in the price of water has been talked about with amazing regularity over the last five years.  First there was the lack of water that led to no new water connections permitted over a lengthy period.  The interim conclusion then was that water rates needed to be raised so that we could expand our water storage capacity.

As I understand it, the contract with Vancouver requires us to pay for X gallons of water each day, whether we need/use that much water on that day or not.  But the X is a daily limit, so we can't get more than that amount on any day.  If we need less, then the extra gallons we could have gotten (and that we did pay for) could go into the storage area, if it has room.  In the summer, we frequently are up at the X level, but not during the rest of the year.  So, we are paying for a lot more water than we actually get because of the unevenness of demand and because we can store only a limited amount.

That interim conclusion during the water connection ban that we needed more storage capacity led to an increase in water rates.  Then, the state intervened in the water connection controversy to say that there had been a mathematical error and we could still have water connections.  But the cost of the connection had already dramatically increased and the tier rate for our use had changed and, effectively, increased.  Even though we were now not going to have to increase capacity.  But, said the water people, well, we need to do a lot of water infrastructure upgrades, so the increases make sense anyway.

These newly-announced increases from Vancouver mean, once again, that storage capacity should be increased, which would mean an additional increase for construction costs in advance of the Vancouver rate increases.  Or it means taking on the Vancouver increases by means of directly increasing Point Roberts' water rates again.

What this all means is that we are going to have to start taking water use seriously.  In Los Angeles, we were always being cautioned about lower water use.  Here, given that it rains so much, that is not an ingrained state of mind.  In the summer time, when rain is infrequent and population and water use are high, people have sprinklers turned on all day long.  There does not appear to be any way (given our lack of local government) to enact and enforce water use restrictions.  The only way to do that is to use high prices as the blunt tool.  Surely we are better than that.

So, we are going to be needing to think about this.  The irony of it, of course, is that at the moment, the ground is so soggy and slippery that walking on the grass is a challenge.  Too much water?  Right; so now we have to think about how to use less water.

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