Henry Vilas wrote:Shorty, how are higher rates good news?
FYI, I installed a low flow toilet years ago.
This is my problem with both the water utility and MG&E. They expect a certain amount of revenue. If their customers conserve, their revenues decline. So they raise rates. Basically this takes away the financial incentive to conserve energy and water. I think it sucks.
Look at it another way.
The revenue needed by the water utility covers the maintenance of a fairly fixed infrastructure: the wells themselves, testing and quality control of the water, the delivery system including pipes and a few water towers and reservoirs, and other fairly obvious functions. We know some of the delivery system is outdated and needs to be on a schedule of replacement that's unlikely to end anytime soon. (The pipes serving Schenks Corners are supposed to be replaced this summer or next, and city engineering told us at a meeting the pipes went back to 1915).
In addition unforeseen expenses like well replacement due to pollution have to be budgeted for.
The water utility has to pay for all this regardless of what income it gets from its customers. We can use less and less water, but the water is essentially more like a mineral resource than a manufactured product of the utility. (Aquifers are considered mineral resources by some economists.) You could use 10 gallons or 1000 gallons, but the cost of delivering it to your sink remains pretty much constant.
For us as individual households to use less of this resource (which recharges naturally, but is not unlimited) is a good long term conservation practice. However, it's not really a big determinant of the expenses of the water utility on an annual basis.
If Madison was in a desert and had to purchase its water from some central water authority, things might get different. But we're lucky enough to sit on a good aquifer and if we use our water thoughtfully, our expenses are mostly distribution and quality control.
I know it's annoying to see cost per-unit-consumed go up as usage goes down, but there's some logic behind it.
MG&E and electricity sourcing and billing is a whole other discussion.