A recently published report by Grumman/Butkus Associates had some good news for advocates, urging facilities to reduce water consumption, and also some bad news for consumers, or at least some bad news on the surface.
First the good news. The study looked into water consumption in US hospitals. What they found is that hospitals today are using 48 gallons of water per square foot per year compared to nearly 70 gallons of water per square foot a decade ago. They have done this, among other ways, by transferring to water-using fixtures that use less water and use it more efficiently.
However, here’s the not so good news, at least at first glance. Even though hospitals have taken significant steps to reduce their water consumption, their water bills have gone up. In 2007, hospitals were paying, on average, about 24 cents per square foot for water. Today that is up to 42 cents per square foot.
What’s going on?
There are many reasons for this, and we are seeing the same thing happening all over the country. Among them are the following:
• Water utility companies are finally starting to address infrastructure problems, some of which have been placed on the back burner for more than 30 years. This costs money, and they are increasing water and sewer rates accordingly.
• Even though hospitals and other types of facilities are using less water today, most utility companies still have the same operating costs. The traditional model – use less, pay less – has caused budgetary problems for utility companies, causing them to raise rates.
• It’s time to pay the piper. Did you know that many advanced countries around the world spend more than twice what we pay for water? Water in the U.S. has always been underpriced, and until recently, no politician wanted to be the one to break the news that we must pay more for water. However, recent shortages in California and other parts of the western half of the U.S. has made it a bit easier to break that news. We must pay more so that we can build the infrastructure to capture and store more water.
• The populations of some states are growing faster than the state’s water infrastructure can keep up. Nevada is a perfect example of this and California, on top of all its drought problems, continues to have a growing population. Water utility companies must take steps now to expand their water systems so that they can better handle current water needs, as well as population growth, coming around the corner.
OK, we mentioned earlier that while rates are going up, many hospitals and consumers are now paying more for water today even though they are using less. But this might not be as bad as it seems. Possibly we should say, it could be worse.
What would make it worse is if they had not taken any measures at all to reduce consumption? At least by using water more efficiently, they have helped moderate these rate increases, taking a bit of the sting out of them.
For more information on ways to reduce water consumption, contact a Waterless Co representative.