How To Reward Wasters And Punish The Thrifty


Due to the continuing drought in California new regulations re. water preservation are kicking in as of today.

The City of Los Angeles realized quite correctly that higher prices for water might be the best incentive for people to refrain from wasting water. In the best Los Angeles fashion a way was found to lower water consumption so asinine that it makes ones head swim. They actually hit those who did not waste water in the past the hardest with the highest rates.

How this works? Here we go.

As an example take a single family dwelling on a lot of under 7,500 sq. ft. This dwelling was allowed a certain amount of water per month at a Tier 1 pricing per HCF (= 748 gallons). Any amount of water exceeding this base limit was priced at Tier 2 prices. Under the new system all users are evaluated by their past water usage. The highest usage during the winter season of the past three years ./. 15 % becomes the new allotment for Tier 1 prices; water exceeding this baseline will be priced at Tier 2.

And herein lies the rub: Anybody who preserved water already will still have a baseline lowered by 15 %. All those water saving measures in that single family dwelling now lead to the fact that this family has a cut off-point for Tier 1 water so ridiculously low that there is no way not to run into Tier 2. Whereas a family in a single dwelling on a lot that same size which squandered water until the cows came home only needs to not run the washing machine 10 times a week for only one pair of jeans and two t-shirts, to not let the shower run for five minutes until stepping under it, to replace those dripping faucets and the leaking toilet tanks, to not let the sprinklers run all day long even when it rains, only needs to reign in water usage by a fraction – and will be rewarded by paying less per month than before, because their baseline at Tier 1 is so much higher, even when 15 % are shaved off it, that they probably never run up enough water usage to get into Tier 2.

It really is mindbogglingly unfair.

I am all for saving water, being conscious of our environment,  saving  our resources and not squandering them. But this new system makes me grind my teeth. If the present user of the system are evaluated according to their water usage of the last three years, it would have been so easy to put in a parameter saying “single family dwelling with less than xxx HCF water usage in winter = do not take off 15 %. Water conscious already. Send postcard thanking them for saving water for Los Angeles.”

Okay, maybe no postcards. But no hitting with unfairly high prices either, simply because these people did not waste water in the past.

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