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Water Bills Go Up As Water Usage Drops

From an unfazed Associated Press:

In this Thursday, March 11, 2010 photo, Norm Labbe, water district superintendent, sits by Branch Brook, a water source in Kennebunk, Maine.

Water bills go up in down economy as usage drops

By Clarke Canfield, Associated Press Writer Sun Apr 4

PORTLAND, Maine – The grim economy is hitting some consumers in the wallet in yet another way: their water bills.

Many water utilities are raising rates because water use is down, in part because manufacturers have closed or are cutting back, tourism has fallen and the real estate market is in the doldrums.

Water sales for the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District in southern Maine fell 11 percent last year, to 1995 levels. The No. 1 reason is the sour economy, said superintendent Norm Labbe.

At least it’s nice to see something that is ‘Bush’s fault’ (the “grim economy”) hitting him where he lives – in Kennebunkport.

One of the utility’s largest customers, a catalog printer, shut its doors last year, putting 374 people out of work. Tourism also has been down — meaning fewer tourists are taking showers and flushing toilets in the motels in the region’s beachside communities.

"This is happening most everywhere. It’s a regional thing, it’s a national thing," Labbe said. "Many, many (water utilities) around the country are seeing decreases in revenues. Because if industry goes down, revenues go down."

A recent study by the Water Research Foundation, a Denver-based nonprofit, on the recession’s impact on water utilities found that home foreclosures and business contractions have reduced water demand in many areas. Cities with high unemployment also have seen reduced water consumption as people move away in search of jobs, said Rob Renner, the foundation’s executive director.

"It depends on where you are in the country. Regionally, the economy is better in some places than in others," he said.

Water companies for the most part get their money from customers. When water consumption goes up, revenues go up — but when consumption falls, so do revenues

Water consumption can be influenced by the weather. In the Northeast, usage declined last summer in part because homeowners watered their lawns less with the rainy weather. The epic drought that gripped the Southeast in recent years also resulted in falling consumption as people were ordered to conserve water…

So this can also be blamed on ‘global warming.’

At least we have the comfort of knowing that when the economy finally turns around and and global warming ends, and water usage goes up all of the water departments across the country will rush to lower their rates.

By the way, the Post Office has been doing this for years. Even before the ‘Great Recession’ and ‘global warming.’

And of course the same thing will happen when we are all forced to cut back on our electricity usage.

Meanwhile, these public utilities reportedly average somewhere around 9% profit. Compare that to the evil health insurance companies, who have a 3% profit margin or less.

And yet the Democrats and Mr. Obama government spent the last year or so, and passed the most intrusive legislation in history — to try to take away Big Insurance’s excessive profits.

But we certainly can’t cut the profits of anything with ‘public’ in its name.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, April 5th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

15 Responses to “Water Bills Go Up As Water Usage Drops”

  1. canary says:

    AP: Water bills go up in down economy as usage drops
    By Clarke Canfield 04-04-2010

    PORTLAND, Maine – The grim economy is hitting some consumers in the wallet in yet another way: their water bills.

    Many water utilities are raising rates because water use is down, in part because manufacturers have closed or are cutting back, tourism has fallen and the real estate market is in the doldrums.

    “This is happening most everywhere. It’s a regional thing, it’s a national thing,” Labbe said. “Many, many (water utilities) around the country are seeing decreases in revenues. Because if industry goes down, revenues go down.”

    A recent study by the Water Research Foundation, a Denver-based nonprofit, on the recession’s impact on water utilities found that home foreclosures and business contractions have reduced water demand in many areas….

    Water companies often raise rates to pay for high-priced capital expenditures, such as new water lines or treatment plant expansions. But they also have to hike rates when water use goes down to bring in enough money to pay their basic operating costs.

    Water consumption can be influenced by the weather. In the Northeast, usage declined last summer in part because homeowners watered their lawns less with the rainy weather. The epic drought that gripped the Southeast in recent years also resulted in falling consumption as people were ordered to conserve water.

    Even after cutting costs 10 percent and laying off nine employees, the water utility in Mount Pleasant, S.C., recently raised rates 9 percent after its customer base and water sales tumbled….

    ….attribute our revenue decline to unoccupied homes due to foreclosures, and commercial businesses just going out of business,” said Clay Duffie, Mount Pleasant Waterworks’ general manager. “When you have fewer customers, you have less revenue.”

    Mount Pleasant, outside of Charleston, has been one of the state’s fastest-growing communities in the past 20 years, growing from about 30,000 to 65,000 residents. But development has come nearly to a halt with the down economy.

    In New Jersey, the Sayreville water department recently raised rates 13 percent. One big reason was the department’s biggest customer, a steel mill, suspended operations for several months because of lower demand for its products.

    And in California, water and sewer rates in tiny Davenport outside of Santa Cruz are going up because the economy has forced a shutdown of the local cement plant, built in 1906. Sewer rates will increase especially fast — up 74 percent to nearly $2,500 a year — because of the plant shutting down, said Rachel Lather of the Santa Cruz County Sanitation District.

    Baileyville’s water utility proposed raising rates 80 percent after the Domtar Corp. mill,…

    “You’ve got to charge more when revenues go down,” said water utility manager Gardner Ross. “But people don’t have incomes coming in, so it’s a double-whammy.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100404/ap_on_bi_ge/us_economy_water_rates;_ylt=AuZnEpk7XzdFZrg9XmdV4ipH2ocA;_ylu=X3oDMTNiYXFndGpoBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTAwNDA0L3VzX2Vjb25vbXlfd2F0ZXJfcmF0ZXMEY2NvZGUDbW9zdHBvcHVsYXIEY3BvcwM2BHBvcwM2BHNlYwN5bl90b3Bfc3RvcmllcwRzbGsDd2F0ZXJiaWxsc2dv

  2. NoNeoCommies says:

    We pay $85 every two months before we are charged a dime for actual water use.
    The water charge is rarely near 30% of the bill.
    Meanwhile, we send our water to people in Southern California that don’t even have meters.

  3. AcornsRNutz says:

    So when usage (demand) goes down, prices need to increase? This is why I don’t buy stuff from the government if I can help it. Only in a government frame of mind can they justify this to make up for revenue lost for selling something they never even owned in the first place, to “pay” for infrastructure that has been in place and paid for for damn near a century.

    • Right of the People says:

      Someone needs to send the a-holes in DC an Economics 101 book. First chapter, Supply & Demand, read it, understand it, embrace it morons!

    • Liberals Make Great Speedbumps says:

      ROTP,

      I’d say the chapter discussing monopolies would be more appropriate when concerning public utilities.

  4. proreason says:

    What is the most important cost category in the economy? The one element that must be fully funded no matter what.

    Food? Shelter? Transportation? Medicine? Heating? Electricity? Child Care? Work-related costs?

    Silly you……all of those are infinitely flexible. You can give up all that stuff if necessary.

    The one thing that can’t give an inch is government services. You can give up eating for months before you die, but the SEIU and the criminals and parasites in congress and the bureaucracies WILL be paid, no matter what.

  5. GetBackJack says:

    Chinatown.

  6. David says:

    I know a portion of my water bill goes to paying for programs, flyers, and classes that the local city puts on to teach people how to use less water. Go figure.

    • proreason says:

      a portion of my water bill goes to paying for programs, flyers, and classes

      It’s actually quite logical.

      By getting to people to use less water, the compensation of the SEIU water dept workers will increase.

      Because as Steve’s article points out, the price will never go down, even if less water is used.

    • GetBackJack says:

      Boy howdy. Out here it’s a constant water-rights war the likes of which most Americans never see or know of. Or, put another way … in the Great Basin California’s needs rule all other concerns. That, and Las Vegas’ desperate desperate need for water features and water fountains throwing energy rich water into the atmosphere in order to lure drunken swine foreigner and college student gamblers into SEIU’s dens of iniquity.

      Constant pressure from civil governments to reduce, reuse and refrain. Even as they water their right of way grass berms in a rainstorm. Even as our water is sold downstream to Las Vegas. Even as …. oh, never mind. Everything is a scam, and everything is rigged.

      Thank God we live where we have well water. And I make our drinking water (no kidding) with a solar still – on a bad day it still produces a gallon. On a good day of wide temperature extremes it can produce up to 3.5 gallons

  7. philmarlowe says:

    This is the way governmental agencies operate. The New York State Thruway has raised tolls for five years in a row. When traffic volume decreases – partly as a result of higher tolls – the Thruway complains that ridership is down and tolls must be increased to offset the lower revenues.

  8. Rusty Shackleford says:

    This very same thing happened in the Charlotte Mecklenburg area for two years during a significant drought. Not only did the city brains impose penalties for watering the lawn, washing cars, etc, they raised the cost of water to homes. Reason? Lost tax revenue due to lower water usage.

    Brilliant.

    And of course they “promised” to lower the water rates once the drought was over. That has yet to happen.

  9. JohnMG says:

    “No one making less than $250,000.00 per year will have a tax increase.” I distinctly remember hearing that statement. Except for people who……….

    purchase gasoline or other motor fuels
    purchase heating fuels
    pay for electrical power
    buy groceries
    smoke or chew tobacco products
    consume alcoholic beverages
    drink water
    are forced to purchase health insurance
    ride public transportation
    fly in an airplane
    go to a movie
    download music online
    use the internet
    communicate on a cell phone
    mail a letter
    send your kids to school
    buy over-the-counter drugs……..
    even breathe air.

    Nope. You won’t pay a cent more in taxes unless you do any or all of the above

  10. Mithrandir says:

    This is what I said in previous posts: IT DOESN’T MATTER how much you conserve, you will still be over-taxed by your gov’t. They are gettin’ the money out of you no matter what.

    You cut off your electricity and put up solar panels on your roof? Over time, you will pay tax for that because it will be assumed that you are rich enough to afford them. They will still get their money.

    Over-use, cost goes up for water. Under-use, cost goes up for water.

    Either way, government is a SCAM.

    • canary says:

      The article did leave out that “new” costly environmental regulations Obama is forcing states to enforce. Conservative lawmakers warned not only coal, but water prices would skyrocket too under Obama.


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