19 November 2009

Vegas charging more... to poor people

The Directors of the Las Vegas Valley Water District (LVVWD) are proposing to increase monthly service charges for all customers. That means that all residential customers will pay $2 or $3/month more, no matter how much water they use.* Water use charges will not change from cheap [pdf].

That means that heavy water users will face a trivial additional cost, while people who use very little water will see relatively greater increases in their bills.

Say, for example, that you are LVVWD director Steve Sisolak, and you use just over 700,000 gallons of water a year (about 660% of the median 5/8" customer).

That means that your monthly bill (assuming a 1" connection) will go from $219.54/month to $222.45. Ouch! That's 1.33% more! Damn, that hurts! /sarcasm

Now say that you are the median customer, using 9,000 gal/mo on a 5/8 meter (that's still 296 gallons per day!) . Your monthly charge will go from $18.57 to $20.57, which is 10.77% higher.

So the "normal" person will have monthly bills that are 11 percent higher, while the heaviest water users (and directors of LVVWD) will pay only 1 percent more. Right, yes, I see....

Bottom Line: This rate increase puts the burden of higher costs (for getting more water!) on average customers, not the ones who are "causing" the shortages: The heavy users and the water managers who set prices too low and then complain of shortages.**

* Although I understand the virtue of matching fixed costs and fixed revenues, Las Vegas has a bigger problem to take care of -- consumption, and this rate increase does nothing to address that.
** LVVWD is led by Patricia Mulroy, General Manager.

2 comments:

jgmumm said...

Rates in Vegas have always been surprisingly low to me. I just read this article about Henderson, NV (adjacent community to Vegas) Henderson Water Rates Set to Go Up - the point being that rates in general in the area are low. They are low because federal money has been used to subsidize raw water conveyance of Colorado River water; had Vegas and/or Henderson had to pay for the water rights and the delivery infrastructure to get it, their costs would be higher and their rates would reflect that.

Good discussion.

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Emily Green said...

Great post. The ultimate cost of Las Vegas's water will be felt by all of Nevada and Utah, including the destruction of the Great Basin National Park. This issue is consistently ignored by the big players in the environmental movement such as the NRDC and national Sierra Club because of the power that Harry Reid wields in the US Senate. Kudos to David Zetland for sticking with it.