Darned if We Do and Darned if We Don’t

For years, those of us advocating for using water more efficiently, have argued that among the benefits is that water-related costs will go down.  It’s the old supply and demand thing: the less you use, the less you have to pay.

As a result, many commercial facilities have found a variety of ways to reduce water consumption, hoping to mitigate water-related charges.

But for all their work and investment, many building owners and managers are reporting that they have not seen their water bills go down. In fact, in some cases, the bill has gone up. 

Commercial Building Water Conservation

What is happening is that as building owners use less water, revenue for utility companies -  based on the old water charging models - is drying up.

Initially, the old supply and demand system was working just as it was designed.  As the demand for water went up, so did the water bill. Using more water gave utility companies more resources so they could address infrastructure needs, install more pipeline for a growing population, hire more staffers, and so forth.

But now, water utilities still must address infrastructure issues, install more pipelines, hire more staffers, as well as provide their traditional services like treat water, and deal with their own rising costs, but with less revenue coming in the door. The result is rising water bills, whether consumption is reduced or not.

The Perfect Example

Over the past several years, many building owners and managers have complained that water charges in the San Diego area are just too high. Because of this, some building owners and managers turned to water reducing technologies to reduce consumption.

Hoping this would help decrease their water bill – or at least keep it in check – they were in for some bad news.  In 2015,  the city’s water department announced a rate increase of more than 40 percent by 2020.  This means, a unit of water (about 750 gallons) that now costs about $4.00 will jump to $6.00.

What we see happening is that if the city is selling less water, then it must charge more for each gallon it sells. This helps them pay for all the infrastructure expenses mentioned earlier, virtually knocking the traditional supply and demand business model upside down.

This situation is being repeated around the country.  Adding urgency to the situation, some cities and states are even under court order to fix old sewer systems and repair sewer overflows.  Pipes in many parts of the country are 70 to 100 years old.  They have been leaking for years and are now beyond repair.  The beginning of what is anticipated to be a one trillion dollar replacement program is now getting underway, and consumers are going to be picking up a significant portion of this tab.

So does this mean we should no longer try to reduce consumption and use water more efficiently?  The answer is no.  If San Diego businesses had not taken those water reducing steps, they would likely be paying even more for water. 

It is essential that we continue on our water reduction path.  There’s more than the cost of water at stake.  Just having water to supply an increasing population is also a growing concern.

For more information on water reducing strategies, please contact a Waterless Co representative at 800-244-6364.