Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Total Watering Bans, part 2

A friend sent me this link, which details a home in Marietta that's using an average of around 400,000 gallons of water per month. At the end of the story it mentions that his bill is going to go up to $2000 per month. Admittedly, I wouldn't want to pay that much for water, but in the middle of a drought it's hard for me to imagine that you can fill something around the size of an Olympic sized swimming pool for only $2000. With restrictions on particular usages, though, what he's doing is perfectly legal. It would even be legal to just stockpile a half million gallons a month so that you can sell it when we run out.

If he were a commercial user it would be even cheaper ($1139). That makes me wonder how many gallons of our water Coke is buying at $2.59 per thousand gallons so they can filter it, slap a Dasani label on it and resell it at $2 per liter.
If water is really so precious that we're going to run out of it why not just raise the cost until people quit using more than we have? And by that I don't mean raise the residential cost and subsidise commercial users while requesting that restaurants not automatically serve water when you sit down for dinner. If water were $20 or $100 per thousand gallons you wouldn't have to request it, the restaurateurs would see it in the profit margin. Some businesses that are heavy water users would either close or move, but if we're really going to run out of water then the lost jobs over Coke no longer getting cheap water from us would be more than offset by being able to keep drinking.

Of course we could also just keep selling commercial users water at $2.59 per thousand gallons. After all, we could always buy Dasani for $2 per liter when we run out.


gwyneth said...

So does Atlanta not tier water usage costs at all, or not particularly well? In Austin, the price of water triples after 2k gallons. I think it is actually more than that, because of wastewater charges. Its enough to make me consider replacing a toilet or two with a super-high efficiency one. It helps that Austin gives a nice rebate for those, and it doesn't hurt that the "low flow toilets" that they installed in my house when the mandate came down initially requires twice as much water to flush as it actually space in the tank.

I wouldn't see the commercial prices changing anytime soon. California was under severe drought conditions for ages, asking but not requiring people to flush less and bath less, but they had no problem subsidizing people who wanted to turn southern california deserts into arable farmland.

Christopher said...

For residential usage the current pricing scheme (in Cobb) is $2.29 for the first 8000 gallons, $2.64 from 8-15k and $2.98 over 15k.

So yes, it is tiered, but $2.98 just isn't appreciably more than $2.29.

gwyneth said...

wow, no wonder Atlanta is in a fix. Austin's prices are as follows - prices per thousand gallons

$.93 for the first 2k
2.43 for 2k-9k
4.18 for 9k-15k
$7.63 for more than than 15k

wastewater charges are 3.18 for the first 2k, and 7.18 for anything more than that.

multifamily, commercial, industrial and golf courses aren't tiered, they have a peak season vs. non peak, and it depends if it is in or out of the city, but it ranges from 3.16-4.55 per 1k gallons and from $6.30 to 6.93 for wastewater.

so the question is what economic impact does Atlanta fear from having a more aggressive tiered system. Austin's economy seems pretty rigorous, but then, what do I know? Maybe they just fear the departure of Coke.