January 27, 2008

A little conservation goes a long way - too much and it can cost you

The flip side to water conservation -- from the Toronto Star:
The high cost of using less water
Municipalities discover inconvenient truth: Lower consumption means less revenue

For years the message drummed into Bud Harris, 78, and his grandson David Moreira, 27, was conserve, conserve.

And conserve they did, along with thousands of others across the GTA, watering their lawn less, replacing old toilets and installing water-efficient showerheads.

"We are trying to be economical and trying to do it to preserve the Earth as well," said Moreira, a locksmith who lives with his retired grandfather in a 1950s-era subdivision in Mississauga.

They've done all the right things, he says, 70 per cent for economic reasons and 30 per cent for environmental reasons.

But that win-win sentiment belies an inconvenient truth one that came out in a recent unguarded comment from Durham Region's works czar, Cliff Curtis. Asked about declining water consumption, he told the Star:

"Conservation is killing us."
The article cites several examples -- here is Toronto's:
Toronto alone is facing about $800 million worth of repair and replacement work, since half of the city's water mains and 30 per cent of its sewer pipes are more than 50 years old. But last year, total revenue was only $604 million.
Last year, Torontonians consumed 374 cubic million metres of water, a huge drop from the 424 million cubic metres that poured from the city's taps in 1988.
Toronto's 9.4 per cent hike in the water rate expected to be repeated annually for some years to come reflects a trend across the GTA. Blended water and wastewater rates are rising everywhere as consumption continues to drop: 6.5 per cent in Halton, 9.5 per cent in Durham, 11.6 per cent in Markham and 9 per cent in Peel.
Not just a 9.4% rate hike, this is a 9.4% increase every single year until some unspecified time in the future... Must be nice to live in a city that deferred so much crucial maintenance for so long. Posted by DaveH at January 27, 2008 10:40 PM | TrackBack
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