Monthly water bills

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Henry Vilas
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Monthly water bills

Postby Henry Vilas » Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:01 pm

How will this save money?

The Madison Water Utility Thursday rolled out a schedule for replacing old water meters in all city businesses and homes, part of a $14 million automated system that will allow data on water usage to be transmitted via a radio network directly to the utility.

...bills are mailed every month instead of twice a year.

Money to pay for the $14 million system, which was approved last year by the Madison City Council, will come from the sale of revenue bonds by the utility. Eventually, customers will see some increases in their water rates as the utility pays back money raised through sale of the bonds.

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Re: Monthly water bills

Postby lukpac » Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:08 pm

If you have a drip or leak or whatever you find out quickly instead of after 6 months.

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Re: Monthly water bills

Postby HamsterArmageddon » Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:14 pm

Don't you get it? It's not about saving money, a cost effective service, or productivity. It's about raising revenue. Take from the tax payer reallocate to the city insider. It's as old as time in this city.

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Re: Monthly water bills

Postby Henry Vilas » Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:16 pm

lukpac wrote:If you have a drip or leak or whatever you find out quickly instead of after 6 months.

That might be a savings for a few people, but the cost of mailing out money bills and writing out a check and mailing it back (postage might go up to 50 cents soon) will be costly for both the city and the consumer. Yes, many if not most will probably pay with a credit card via an email bill, but there are probably more Madisonians without a credit card than those are who have leaky plumbing.

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Re: Monthly water bills

Postby snoqueen » Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:20 pm

Is there any savings in going to an automated meter reading system instead of sending meter readers all around town to do it by hand? (probably yes) If there are savings, how long will it take the automated system to pay for itself?

The more people use automatic deductions or make on line payments, the more clerical savings for sure. I'd think monthly billing costs would make very little difference after 80-90% of everyone makes automated payments. A totally automated payment system is certainly the goal, regardless of frequency of billing or method of meter-reading.

It might be an incentive for people to install water-saving fixtures if they could see a big reduction in water usage only days after doing so. Probably the long-term idea is to reduce household water usage so we don't have to drill so many new wells, but we don't know if the main intent of the new meters is to help consumers watch their usage more closely or just make data-collection easier for the utility.

To what uses will the water utility put the minute-by-minute usage data? Could they establish different rates at different hours, like some electric utilities do? There's no reason people can't do their laundry late at night, for instance.

Perhaps the utility could spot small underground leaks more quickly if they had minute-by-minute data on water usage everywhere in the city, aggregated from households on up instead of collected top-down (that's probably not the right term) at the well or a pumping station.

If I were a reporter I'd do a story on this. I don't think it's some big conspiracy (I know some people do). It's just an interesting aspect of civil engineering.

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Re: Monthly water bills

Postby lukpac » Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:36 pm

HamsterArmageddon wrote:Don't you get it? It's not about saving money, a cost effective service, or productivity. It's about raising revenue. Take from the tax payer reallocate to the city insider. It's as old as time in this city.


Umm...what?

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Re: Monthly water bills

Postby fennel » Sat Feb 18, 2012 9:48 pm

It seems like this system would make sense if the billing remained biannual but the monthly usage rates were posted online. Users could then track trends but wouldn't have to assume the overhead of monthly payments. Minimally, biannual payments should remain an option.
After all, where does it end? If they have the ability to track weekly usage, why not weekly billing? It will cost essentially nothing to send the bill but it will be significant burden for users to unnecessarily pay another bill on an artifically short timeline.

On the other hand, there has to be some, additional cost to the city to process payments more frequently.

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Re: Monthly water bills

Postby doppel » Sun Feb 19, 2012 12:54 am

How will this save money?
From the linked article:

"Water utility officials said the new system will:
Pave the way for eventually establishing a rate system that rewards water customers for conservation."

Sounds like Newspeak for raising the rates of the majority/normal users. Double eeveil, Mother Earth rapin', bath takin', lawn waterin, car washin' sons-sa-bitches, no doubt. Mayor Paul can get his other hip replaced with all the new late fees that will be tacked on monthly and still have money to bet on the ponies. Mooo-ooo, a new cash cow is born. It's that simple.

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Re: Monthly water bills

Postby snoqueen » Sun Feb 19, 2012 1:51 pm

Oh, come on. There's a difference between not bathing and taking sensible measures to conserve water resources.

We're really lucky around here having lots of available, relatively clean water. In other parts of the country they're reusing purified sewer water (which is actually supposed to be drinkable) or installing filters in each home because the municipal water is so awful.

Around here, lake research shows we're taking more water out of the ground than is going back naturally, springs in our watershed have run dry, and water quality is being damaged by fertilizer and road salt. In addition there is a documented drawdown of underground water around city wells. The least we can do is start monitoring our water usage more closely to begin to see what's really going on.

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Re: Monthly water bills

Postby Henry Vilas » Sat Jul 07, 2012 1:04 pm

Group of Madison residents asks for state investigation into water meters plan

Citing the potential health impacts of radio frequency emissions, a group of 33 Madison residents has asked the state Public Service Commission to investigate the Madison Water Utility's $13-million plan to install an automated meter system that allows water meters to be read remotely.

The group also asked the Madison Water Utility to voluntarily halt installation of the meters until it develops a plan that would allow those who don't want the meters to opt out of the program.

"There just are a lot of concerns," said Madison resident Dolores Kester, one of 33 who signed the petition asking the PSC to intervene. "And you have to respect peoples' concerns."

A PSC official said Friday that the petition has been received and is being reviewed.

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Re: Monthly water bills

Postby Cornbread » Sat Jul 07, 2012 7:58 pm

snoqueen wrote:It might be an incentive for people to install water-saving fixtures....Probably the long-term idea is to reduce household water usage........

That'd be my vote, though a lot of places have auto-meters already.
So how soon can we expect to see all the leftists out there demonstrating against the Madison City Council because they are waging a war on the working families, by implementing such automation? I can't wait. Mebbe some seiu thugs imported from chicago again would be a nice touch.


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