25 Nov 2009

The customer is definitely right!

A loyal reader who works in a water agency send this customer letter:
Hi there,

I'm an avid water conservationist. Even have a large storage facility for capturing rainwater for my gardening.

I'm also an engineer and am adept at using a calculator. I see no good fiscal ($) reason to try to conserve on my water usage.

You have two rate tiers: "unlimited cheap water" and standard usage "cheaper water."

You need to take some lessons from PG&E; they've figured out how to encourage conservation. There is an entire industry setup to get people out of their tier 3 and tier 4 rates.

My analysis indicates that unless you make it more expensive to use more water, you are not going to really get the savings you could achieve.

I sincerely encourage you to replace your two cheap water rates with
  1. a slightly cheaper first rate for up to 9 CCF/month (Maybe $2.00) 
  2. a slightly more expensive 10-15 rate $2.40
  3. an even more expensive 16-24 rate $3.00
  4. a really expensive unlimited rate $4.00*
Then maybe there will be serious attempts at conservation. If not, at least the water district will have enough income to increase the rebates on low flush toilets, or maybe make cheap rain barrels available.
* That's nothing! Recall that Santa Barbara used tiers of $1.09, 3.27, 9.81 and $29.43 per unit (!!) to get 50 percent conservation during the last drought.

Bottom Line: Customers understand that water is too cheap to conserve, so they don't -- and that's why we have shortages. Any questions?