18 Oct 2013

Let's get serious, America

Aquadoc posted some information from a recent Columbia U. report on fixing and financing water infrastructure. Read it [pdf] but also take my comments into consideration:
Regarding this statement ("It will be difficult for many utilities to raise rates high enough to pay down existing levels of debt"), I'd say that rates (or taxes) must rise. Most utilities have been underinvesting since the "big push" of installing networks over 100 years ago. They've drawn down capital, and now it's time to bite the bullet and spend. Americans pay less for water than Europeans, and they get what they pay for.

On (1), it's important to benchmark performance (e.g., IB-NET) to see how well they are doing. Want to push that to its limit? Use my method for improving manager performance [pdf]

On (3) and (4), it's important to keep leakage and recovery in mind. Most leaks are in the system -- not the household -- and recovery means that conservation (demand down) is not as important as reducing leaks and recycling water.*
Bottom Line: Water managers can deliver quality water services, but they need to be pushed to achieve quality and properly funded.

* Speaking of recycling, Portland just dumped another 8 million gallons because someone peed in the reservoir. Those managers need to grow a pair and tell customers that their water isn't that clean BEFORE it goes through the treatment plant. The cost of drain/refill, alone, is much higher than the TINY cost of cleaning some pee out of the 8 million gallons. Upside down priorities.

Correction: That was in 2011, when it was ALSO a bad idea :) -- thanks to CF for the correction...

H/T to RM


Alice Chesworth said...

FYI on your footnote: there is no treatment plant in Portland. The cost you talk about of "just cleaning some pee" is irrelevant, what comes out of those reservoirs goes straight into people's homes.

David Zetland said...

@Alice -- yes, I heard that. Thanks. I'm a little confused as to why it's ok for dead birds to not get "treated out" [according to their policies] whereas pee is a no go.

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