Thursday, December 26, 2013

Not the Only Reason . . .

In the Christmas edition of the OD: Less water used could mean higher prices paid suggests that
As more and more residents, who get their water from the Mohawk Valley Water Authority, buy water-efficient appliances, the authority is forced to look at continually raising rates. . . . 
"When I came here 16 years ago, the average customer, the whole household used 80,000 to 100,000 gallons a year," [MVWA Executive Director Patrick Becher] said. "That's down to 50,000 gallons a year. We've been seeing a two to three percent declined in actual water sales, which is troublesome because our costs don't go down to operate the system."
Undoubtedly there is some truth to Mr. Becher's assertion that water-efficient appliances contribute to a decline in demand.  But is Mr. Becher ignoring the "elephant" in the room -- the Oneida County Sewer District -- whose charges have caused the bottom lines of all of our quarterly water bills to balloon?

Since Mr. Becher does not control the County charges, he may be forgiven for overlooking their effect . . . but we homeowners cannot.  The County signed the Consent Order, the County determined that a new sewer interceptor and expansion of the Wastewater Treatment Plant were necessary for economic development, and the County passed ITS costs on to the water users.  When it costs a small fortune to water your lawn or garden, or wash your car, you stop doing those things, even in times of drought like we had during 2012.  When you can no longer afford your water-using business (due to rates/taxes/regulations etc.), you leave town. And demand for water drops.

Our local government is so fragmented functionally and geographically that the right hand doesn't know what the left is doing -- making it incapable of adequately responding to the needs of the average citizen or small business. For every action taken by one part there is a reaction elsewhere.

While the reason for the story seems to be a set up for higher water rates, the more likely motivation is MVWA's recent application to DEC (buried in the legal notices last week) to expand its service territory to include all of the Towns of Frankfort, Schuyler, Kirkland, and Westmoreland. We probably will hear that MVWA needs to do this to get new customers to offset the decline in demand. See (scroll down to multiple counties).  The comment period expires 1/17/14 -- just in time for Christmas, New Years, and the ML King holidays!  I'll post more on this later.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Utica just bonded for {the exact figure escapes me} millions of $$ in sewer repairs. The borrowing was of course rammed down the taxpayer's throats with no input from citizens. Now we find out after the fact of course, that Utica residents will see an increase in sewer charges. How nice. Isn't it bad enough that the MVWA as a business model raises rates EVERY YEAR, but Utica residents are also bled dry for a combination of county & also city sewer taxes? It never ends.