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Penalized for saving water

Original post made by Joe, Barron Park, on Jun 30, 2015

I received notice from city of Palo Alto utilities.
Water rates going up.
Due to the drought , water usage has dropped at the urging of the Governor, thus revenues have dropped but the utility company still has to maintain the water system so they have to raise rates.

We are being penalized for saving water!

Comments (5)

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 30, 2015 at 8:56 pm

It's the Palo Alto way. They've been doing this for years. They keep spending money to send us mailings telling us to conserve, sponsoring contests telling us to conserve, hiring Chief Sustainability officers to tell us to conserve, erroneously comparing our usage against our neighbors, etc. etc. etc.

Then they tell us we've conserved too much and they face a penalty on their contracts for gas, electric, garbage, water, oil, etc, because we didn't use enough so our rates are going even higher.

In this case the drought is serious but the city is still the biggest water waster.

See the other topic here about how the more you conserve, the higher your surcharge!

Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 30, 2015 at 10:56 pm

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

Water does not participate in partisan politics, does not take sides, has closer ties to no one. I think one reason we stay in PA is because it's a community that proactively manages its destiny, or at least knows to protect the good thing we have going.

Silicon Valley's about building things, forward progress, invention. As much as I'd like to point a finger, no one's responsible for our H20 but you and me. When there's a lot of it, rock on. When there's not enough, we gotta be Spartans, shield to shield, sacrificing for the team.

That necessarily means we must use less and pay more for the less we use. The alternative is upstream providers (SF PUC) making the decision for us by lowering our water pressure, which could absolutely happen in less than 12 months if El Nino turns out to be wishful thinking.

I'm no expert, but lurking below the short-term drought headlines appears to be knowledge that California was born, grew and now rests upon a rare 150-year wet period that just coincidentally encompasses almost the entire state's lifespan.

If you're interested in the long-term CA drought history, here’s an NYT article* worth reading: Web Link
*May Ron Paul forgive me for referring to the NYT for objectivity, but like I said, water's apolitical.

It might be there's a 30-40% chance of this drought further revealing itself as the beginning of a 5/10/20/50/100-year megadrought. My knuckleheaded read of things certainly leads me to conclude that there's more chance of this being a megadrought than there is for anthropogenic global warming. On that point, there's no point in being political. Water's just something we gotta have, or life stinks. I'll pay lots more, and the further you find yourself up the economic ladder, the more you should conserve and pay Evian-esque rates. That's just the way it is.

BTW, PA has a water treatment plant that treats 5M gallons/day, most of which is just pumped back into the aquifer. I'm trying to turn that into a business but honestly have no idea if it'll work. Regardless, one thing's clear: we need to recycle and reuse 90%+ of our water if droughts and megadroughts aren't going to hang over our heads like an unstable axe. Maybe there'll be an Elon Musk of Water (doubt it), or maybe we'll get our game face on and bust the drought by conserving,******* letting the market price water freely******, and investing in infrastructure that brings long-term freedom from variant precipitation.

Posted by Salty
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 30, 2015 at 11:31 pm

@ Chris

How are you dealing with the high chloride/sodium content in the recycled water in regards to landscape irrigation?

Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 30, 2015 at 11:43 pm

Chris Zaharias is a registered user.

@Salty - the plant's water has a TDS of ~900, vs ~650 for groundwater and ~30 for Hetch Hetchy water. Canopy's published documents advise keeping average TDS <600. So if you replace 25-50% of your potable water use with recycled, you get an average TDS of ~465 = problem solved.

Posted by Salty
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 30, 2015 at 11:56 pm

@ Chris

Meaning you irrigate with potable water, after using recycled? Maybe add some Gypsum?Aeration ? On another note, Why is lawn area in Greer park almost dead?After all, there is piping for recycled water at the park. I thought that you might know.Thanks.

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