As a plumbing company, we’re always interested in current events with regard to water here in the Valley. Recently, the city of Phoenix changed their water rate structure, to base more revenue on heavier-use residents than those who are more conservative. Along with this change is a growing awareness that there is a discrepancy among cities in the Valley regarding water usage rates. Rates for 9000 gallons can vary anywhere from $23.51* (in Avondale) to $66.57* (El Mirage).
At first, this seems terribly unfair. Especially since, in most cases, it’s the same water. But, is it really unfair? Let’s take a look at that.
Robert Glennon, a water expert and University of Arizona law professor has been quoted as saying, “All you're really paying for is the cost of having wells to pump the water, a treatment plant, billing system, plumbers to fix leaks and the cost of providing the water. You're not paying much for the water itself as a group or a private company."
Municipal water rates are a bit of a tricky business. If they’re too low, the city won’t be able to maintain and upgrade its water infrastructure, which includes pipes, pumps, filters and other items.
So, why do some areas cost more than others? To understand this, you have to understand than some municipalities have old, outdated equipment which is badly in need of upgrades. El Mirage is such a place.
In addition, the Valley expects to double their population by 2050. That being the case, conservation takes on a whole new meaning. In fact, pricing is a critical component of future development, which is partially the reason that heavier users pay dearly for their water. The payment structure doesn’t just mean that a consumer pays more when he uses more water, but, rather, his usage increases his bill exponentially. This price structuring is meant to encourage conservation.
There are other promotions to raise awareness of Valley water needs, particularly among school-age children. The City of Phoenix, and Project WET, are offering a workshop for teachers of students grades 6-12 to promote water education training, stewardship and STEM literacy.
The annual Water reuse symposium is also calling for children of all ages in Arizona to participate in a water reuse art and writing contest
While the average homeowner may think their responsibility for water use starts at their water meter or water bill, the implications of conservation suggest that if we hope to offer a future for our children here in the Valley, our vision needs to be farther reaching than that. Water experts, plumbers, scientists, municipalities, and residents all have a stake in our water future.