In these Western cities, using less water costs more

Some homes pay five times as much as others for the same amount of water.

 

Where you live has a lot to do with the price of the water that comes out of your kitchen faucet — but odds are, it’s getting more expensive. A recent survey of household water use shows an upward trend in price and surprising patterns for Westerners.

In its , the nonprofit journalism network Circle of Blue found Santa Fe’s residential water the most expensive in 2017. There, approximately 12,000 gallons — at the top of the range the USGS estimates — costs $154. The same volume costs just $31 in Salt Lake City, where water was cheapest in the 12 Western cities surveyed.

Most residential water bills also include sewer and storm water charges, which weren’t analyzed in the survey. And a typical bill might be smaller if households have fewer than four residents or if they don’t consume very much water. Still, comparing the price of a fixed volume of water, rather than the size of a typical bill, can reveal broad trends. Among them: Prices have risen in every Western city surveyed since 2010, even as conservation and efficiency have driven per capita water use down.

Santa Fe’s high costs are due to pricing structure. While many cities have tiered water rates, Santa Fe’s are particularly aggressive. Above a certain threshold, households pay more than three times as much for each subsequent gallon they use, topping out at $21.72 per thousand gallons. That curbs excessive use and encourages conservation, says Christine Chavez, Santa Fe water conservation manager. Most residents, she says, use little enough water that they stay below the threshold for the higher rate.

Salt Lake City also has tiered water prices during the summer, to promote efficiency when outdoor water use is highest. But the most expensive rate — the highest tier — comes to just $3.38 per thousand gallons, slightly more than twice as much as the starting tier.

The city’s bargain prices are in part due to a gravity-fed system and the close proximity of high quality source water, which keeps treatment and transport costs down, says Laura Briefer, the director of Salt Lake City Public Utilities. “It only takes about 24 hours for water at the top of the Wasatch Mountains to get to somebody’s faucet in Salt Lake City,” she says.

While costs are up overall, some cities have seen dramatic spikes: In San Francisco, for instance, rates more than doubled over the past seven years.

The hikes reflect the ongoing expense of replacing and repairing aging pipes, or building new infrastructure. Salt Lake City Public Utilities, for example, is proposing rate increases over the next several years in part to fund water treatment plant upgrades, Briefer says. Paradoxically, some higher prices reflect the cost of conserving water. When customers use less water, utilities make less money. They can fill that deficit by boosting rates, in California.

The bottom line: We may think of it as a fundamental right, but water operates as a commodity — one that isn’t getting any cheaper.

Emily Benson is an editorial intern at NewTowncarShare News. 

Note: This story has been updated to clarify the tiered system in Santa Fe. An earlier version of this article included a chart with 2016 water consumption figures and household bills that HCN could not independently verify. We’re working to reconcile discrepancies in the data and will update this story if the information becomes available.

NewTowncarShare News Classifieds
  • Southwest Borderlands Initiative Professor of Native Americans and the News Media The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University is...
  • AWF seeks an energetic Marketing and Communications Director. Please see the full job description at https://azwildlife.org/jobs
  • The Southwest Communications Director will be responsible for working with field staff in Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico to develop and execute detailed communication plans...
  • An intentional community designed for aging in place. Green built with Pumice-crete construction (R32), bamboo flooring, pine doors, T&G ceiling with fans, and maintenance free...
  • (CFROG) is a Ventura County, CA based watch-dog and advocacy non-profit organization. cfrog.org
  • Take your journalism skills to the next level and deepen your understanding of environmental issues by applying for the 2019-2020 Ted Scripps Fellowships in Environmental...
  • WINTER WILDLANDS ALLIANCE POSITION ANNOUNCEMENT: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Winter Wildlands Alliance seeks an experienced and highly motivated individual to lead and manage the organization as Executive...
  • The San Juan Mountains Association is seeking a visionary leader to spearhead its public lands stewardship program in southwest Colorado. For a detailed job description...
  • The Cascade Forest Conservancy seeks a passionate ED to lead our forest protection, conservation, education, and advocacy programs.
  • Mountain Pursuit is a new, bold, innovative, western states, hunting advocacy nonprofit headquartered in Jackson, Wyoming. We need a courageous, hard working, passionate Executive Director...
  • The Draper Natural History Museum (DNHM) at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center of the West in Cody, WY, invites applications for the Willis McDonald, IV...
  • Couple seeks quiet, private, off-grid acreage in area with no/low cell phone service and no/low snowfall. Conservation/bordering public lands a plus. CA, OR, WA, ID,...
  • 20mi N of Steamboat Springs, majestic views, aspen forest, year-round access, yurt, septic, solar electric, seasonal ponds, no covenants, bordering National Forest. Ag status. $449K....
  • Conservation nonprofit Friends of Cedar Mesa in Bluff, Utah is hiring for two positions: Communications & Development Manager/Director (remote work possible) and a Deputy Director...
  • Former northern Sierra winery, with 2208 sq.ft. commercial building, big lot, room to expand.
  • The dZi Foundation is seeking a FT Communications Associate with a passion for Nepal to join our team in Ridgway, Colorado. Visit dzi.org/careers.
  • Available now for site conservator, property manager. View resume at http://skills.ojaidigital.net.
  • Stellar seed-saving NGO is available to serious partner. Package must include financial support. Details: http://seeds.ojaidigital.net.
  • 1400 sf of habitable space in a custom-designed eco-home created and completed by a published L.A. architect in 1997-99. Nestled within its own 80-acre mountain...
  • Suitable for planting hay, hemp, fruit. Excellent water rights. 1800 square foot farmhouse, outbuildings, worker housing.


У нашей организации важный сайт про направление www.cafemarseille.com.ua.