Mixed Conservation Message

With reservoir levels up to 83.4% and nearly a solid week of rain in the forecast, it’s reasonable to assume that we’ll hit the golden 85% level in the next couple of days and maintain that level for a week, thus ending the water restrictions. (One climatologist thinks that the reservoirs will be at 100% within a month, WINA reports.) Despite this good news, water rates are about to double from their pre-drought levels. This is because the 50% cut in water usage has resulted in a 50% drop in water revenue, requiring that overall 100% increase in price. Thus, there is a direct correlation between consumers’ conservation habits and the amount of money that they must pay for water. In today’s Cavalier Daily, their lead editorial laments this conflict, going so far as to suggest that people ignore the restrictions and increase their water consumption to encourage City Council to lower the rates.

12 thoughts on “Mixed Conservation Message”

  1. It seems to me that there should have been a trigger in place. When restrictions begin, effective with the next billing cycle the rates increase. When restrictions end, effective with the next billing cycle the rates return to normal. Enact that regulation and they’re covered without having to make a big deal about it next time.

    Unfortunately, the RWSA screwed the pooch this time, and the rate increase will take hold just as people are told it’s okay to use as much water as they want to. Funny how that happened, isn’t it?

    The thing is, I wonder if they will take this opportunity to keep rates high, or at least higher than before.

    The water people (RWSA) have apparently done a horrible job managing the critical resource they were entrusted with, and they got caught with their pants down this fall. I believe their only source of revenue is water bill payments, and they damn sure can’t expect to receive any state money, so if they haven’t been managing the shop well it would stand to reason that they don’t have the financial resources they need to affect improvements that everybody knows are needed.

    Note that by "water people" I mean very specifically Gary O’Connell, the City Manager, Robert Tucker, the Albemarle County Executive, Judith Mueller, the City’s Director of Public Works, J. William Brent, the Director of the Albemarle County Service Authority, and an appointed member named Richard Collins.

    At this point, do they have any choice but to raise rates? These bureaucrats let all of us down, and they must be called to account for their decisions and inactions, as should the politicians who appointed them. I guess this is another case of getting the government you’re willing to settle for.

  2. Does anyone have a clue on how much it costs Americans to have most of basic necessities managed by for-profit administrators? You are reading here about the absurdity of the situation with our local water supply. It’s crazy! Conservation = Higher Costs. Why? Because an ‘artificial’ private 3rd party administering our OWN water supply dictates they must maintain ‘artificially’ a certain income level!!!

    Do people realize it’s the same thing (only much much worse) with our private health insurance (a greedy middleman indeed), most of our highway’s maintenance and construction, our communications pipelines, our educational and childcare systems, etc. etc.

    The argument goes that the private sector is more ‘efficient’ than the public sector. I respond 2 things: 1) Yes, they’re MUCH more efficient at scamming we the people once they’ve been conceded authority, and they’re particularly good at demanding some phony (arbitrary) revenues from exploitation 2) who says we can’t streamline public works? Have we even tried for any adequate timeframe?

    Recently, there was an online article from a U.S. business mag (I think it was ‘The Economist’ or maybe ‘Business Week’) concerning the state of high-speed train travel in Europe. Believe me: the train system through most of Europe is so good, not only are planes starting to have healthy competition, but even cars become optional for any inter-city travel. The article, originating this side of the big pond, lauds the system while leaving ample room for criticism of the public tax-based funding of the high-speed over the last and next 15 years (notably with the super high gas taxes). But in order to plan and develop better systems, be they for transportation, or for water (!!!), pro-active investments must be made. In the meantime, Amtrak is heading for Chapter 13 (or is it already there?). The only notable place this foresight is applied in the U.S., as I see it, is for our formidable war machine.

    As I’ve said too many times before: it’s the fundamental lack of political will that is going to bring down America. As fellow poster on cvillenews.com ‘Jack’ has said here also many times – and he’s right about this point – people seem to think our political system works. Well, back on the economic front, the Euro, after an understandably arduous start, is now trading ABOVE the dollar. Wait until next summer! And then the next!! It’s not at all far-fetched to consider that currency will be the benchmark of most international markets, maybe even within North-America within a decade!

  3. Yes, yes and yes. But… do you really think that our votes matter? I mean, they’re all pretty much part of a same broken-down system. This is the real reason there’s so much abstention (I like that better than ‘turn-out’) at the voting booth: more and more people, a silent majority maybe even, just knows that voting for x or y within the system we have amounts to choosing between McDonald’s and Burger King. Same diff!

  4. In today’s Cavalier Daily, their lead editorial laments this conflict, going so far as to suggest that people ignore the restrictions and increase their water consumption to encourage City Council to lower the rates.

    Oh, that’s just brilliant. That’d look great if the rain dies off again and we go into another drought, they’d have encouraged people to worsen the drought for political purposes. You know, I’ve always said it’s wise to toy with life-essential resources for political means.

  5. Maybe not political purposes, but financial ones.

    Am I really going to end up paying a higher water bill when I’m using less water than I ever have before? But I will say this… there are few things that’ll motivate the populace like their wallets!

  6. "Abstention." I think you’re onto something important there.

    Left unsaid is the idea that our collective memory tends to be rather short, and it’s pretty likely that the electorate and candidates will have other, more urgent matters on their minds during the next cycle. Unless, of course, we’re in the midst of water restrictions at the time!

  7. I submit that the RWSA, the City of Charlottesville, and ACSA were negligent in their handling of the water crisis. We have been in a drought for three-four years, depending on who you ask. During this timeframe, NOTHING was done to address our dwindling water supply.

    These people have access to stats, trends, and analysis showing projected precipitation, population and industrial growth, water capacity, and projected consumption. For years, they ignored this data and did nothing to work towards increasing our water capacity in preparation for the continued drought and our future in general.

    Then, all of a sudden, it’s a crisis and they want US to pay for it. They get on TV and act all righteous and holy – going so far as to call lawn waters thieves.

    What got me was that they stood up and implied that if we ran out, it was OUR fault for using too much. Well, KMA.

    Well, Mr. Water Authority, I got news for you. It’s YOUR responsibility to manage our water supply. It’s YOUR responsibility to take actions necessary to ensure the tap doesn’t run dry. It’s YOUR responsibility to gradually seek funds to procure new water sources OVER TIME.

    It’s called planning. It’s called doing your job, and you didn’t do it. We should have been on Phase 1 restrictions a long time ago. We should have started seeking new water sources a couple of years ago. If money was needed for new sources of water, we should have had a incremental rate increase to cover the new projects YEARS AGO. These surcharges could/should be dropped when projects are completed.

    Perhaps everyone should just refuse to pay their water bills for a couple of months. They can have a ball going around and turning off everyone’s water – for 100,000 people in the metro Albemarle area. They think they are in the red now …

    In my opinion, there needs to be some job openings at the RWSA, City, and County. But there probably will not be, especially since crappy service seems to be the norm in this area rather than the exception.

    The RWSA should NOT be able to set whatever rate they want, because they are a government mandated monopoly. We should not be at their mercy, they should be at ours. The RWSA is supposed to serve us, we do not serve them.

  8. Only if being a part of the populace makes one elite.

    Frankly, the main bee in my britches over the whole thing is the water rate hike to which I was referring.

  9. That would be an option…

    …on the other hand, I’d prefer seeing YOU leave. Maybe then things would improve here!

Comments are closed.