This town’s in desperate need of a great public works blogger. Unfortunately, you’ve got me instead.
Frequent readers know that — despite my frustration with street signs and dealings with the EPA — I am very much in love with Worcester DPW. And that my children have this bizarre adoration of Jordan Levy. So let’s combine all that into one post, shall we?
Jordan Levy posted the following on his blog:
Announcement that water and sewer rates are once again going up in Worcester should come as no surprise. The $30 dollar average increases, brings the average users cost to around $900 a year. The increase is necessary in order to comply with the EPA’s regulations and increased cost associated with an ageing water and sewer system. Still, this is an often forgotten issue when we get our tax bills. Before the establishment of the water and sewer enterprise accounts, water and sewer costs were part of the tax bill. Once proposition 2½ came in, cities and towns skillfully established water rates outside of the tax line. No matter how you cut it, when you get your tax bill, add another $900 or upward to the cost of living here.
The City of Worcester uses approximately 21.6 million gallons of water a day. Divide that by 181,085 — a Worcester resident uses approximately 120 gallons of water every day.
Charging people for water and sewer — like charging them for trash bags — is one way to encourage conservation. (Yes, I know that to a certain extent water and sewer costs are what they are and that water conservation only gets so far, but bear with me.)
I don’t water my lawn. I take navy showers. I live by the motto “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.” Why shouldn’t I derive some sort of benefit (via my water/sewer bill) from those activities? Why should I pay the same as someone who can’t be bothered to turn the faucet off while brushing his teeth?
Instead of complaining about a 3% increase in water and sewer, why not instead point folks to comparatively simple ways that will help offset that increase?
We cannot keep taking, we cannot keep consuming, we cannot keep wasting, and expect that there will be no consequences. We are entitled to have a reasonable amount of water to bathe, to drink, to cook with, etc.; we’re entitled to have wastewater treatment.
We are not entitled to have glowing green lawns in the middle of August.
The water and sewer rate is a relatively small way to encourage people to conserve water. We need to be doing more to encourage conservation of natural resources (including landfill space) in general. If a 3% increase makes someone rethink something small — shower heads, rain barrels, toilet flushing — that should be something to be applauded, not criticized.