Monetary Value Monday: Increase in US Water Rates

Water Rate Increases have been in the news repeatedly over the years but recently much more frequently I have come across constant increases in both water rates and sewer rates to offset utility infrastructure projects, utility debt, to help utilities repay loans and secure new water sources. A few of the water rate increase I have come across in the last month are below: (So you are not the only one)

1%-15% Rate Increase:

16%-40% Rate Increase:

  • Foster City, CA. On July 1, 2012 SFPUC notified EMID that it will increase the wholesale rate for water from $2.63 / ccf to $2.95 / ccf. Representing a 12% increase. EMID must respond to this increase by increasing its base consumption rate to $3.13 / ccf, which represents an 18% increase in consumption charges to its customers effective July 1, 2012. Fixed meter charges, however, will be decreased by 10% from their current rates.
  • Upshur, VA 20% Increase
  • Plymouth, MA. 21% increase
  • San Jose, CA.21% increase within the next year and 44% increase over the next three years (Taking residential bills from $65 to $93)
  • Visalia, CA 25.3% Increase
  • Joplin, Missouri 25.5% Increase
  • Sistersville, VA 27% increase
  • Brandon, MS Increased 27% since 2000
  • Boiling Springs, PA 27% increase
  • Lafayette, CA29% Increase
  • Madison, MS Increased 30% since 2000
  • Oolitic, IN 32% Increase 
  • Jackson, MS 35% increase in first year of use
  • Scituate, MA 10% Increase expected to increase to 35% increase

41%-60% Rate Increase:

61%-80% Rate Increase:
81%-100% Rate Increase:
101%-200% Rate Increase:

Scarcity is Increasing Time to Check Out the Alternatives!

Recycled Water: employs the same principles as the hydrologic cycles but with vastly greater efficiency and results in a much more pure end product. There are multiple methods used to treat water so that it can be reused however each method has multiple phases. 
    • The first phases where the water is typically taken from the sewage or wastewater facility and solids are removed (naturally this occurs in rivers). 
    • Then the second phase is when microorganisms are added which eat smaller particles. Once the organisms consume material they will fall to the bottom leaving the cleaner water to rise to the surface. 
    • Phase three the water goes through a filtration process where the water percolates through layers of fine anthracite coal, sand and gravel (similar to underground seepage which occurs in aquifers). 
    • Phase four disinfectants and chlorine is added to kill germs. (Water is ready for industrial and commercial use)
  • Phase five microfiltratson process: the water is pressurized through pipes containing straw-like fibers with pores that are 5,000 times smaller than a pinhole
  • Phase six reverse osmosis:  water is pressurized at about 2000 pounds per square inch through tightly wound layers of membranes with pores that are 5 million times smaller than a pinhole. This eliminates virtually all impurities.
Examples of different efforts of water recycling:
  1. South Bay Water Recycling program, which distributes recycled wastewater to more than 400 customers in the San Jose area
  2. Irvine Ranch Water District’s ground-breaking dual water system, which supplies recycled water to commercial high rises for use in flushing toilets and urinals
  3. West Basin Municipal Water District that distributes recycled water to more than 210 customers
  4. Monterey County Water Recycling Projects, which provide recycled water for agricultural irrigation to help ease demands on an over-drafted groundwater aquifer
  5. Padre Dam Water Recycling Facility, which was expanded to recycle 2 million gallons/day for turf irrigation at parks, golf courses and other commercial and industrial facilities.
  6. In San Diego, 16 water agencies are collectively using over 32,300 acre-feet of recycled water annually to meet the region’s water supply demand
    • City of Carlsbad’s new recycled water treatment and distribution system that will deliver approximately 3,000 acre-feet per year of recycled water to customers located in that seaside community.
    • Otay Water District is constructing a distribution system to deliver an estimated 5,000 acre-feet per year of recycled water by 2030 purchased from the City of San Diego’s South Bay Water Recycling Plant.
  7. Orange County Water District and the Orange County Sanitation District came together to take highly treated wastewater previously discharged into the ocean and subjects it to further treatment, including microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet disinfection. The purified water is pumped to spreading ponds near the Santa Ana River for percolation into the groundwater basin, with some injected along the coast as a barrier to seawater intrusion.
    • The Replenish system produces 70 million gallons per day or up to 25.5 billion gallons of water per year (enough to meet the needs of 500,000 people)

Greywater, Water Water, and Carbon

  • According to the AWWA, 84% of residential water is used in non-drinking water applications (Lawn irrigation, laundry, showers, toilet flushing)
  • Progress within the grey water world, NSF/ANSI 350: Onsite water reuse 
    • L.E.E.D. stated that it satisfied the grey water requirement
    • National Association of Home Builders and National Green Building Certification Program states that it satisfies the innovative practice requirement
  • Dupont Corporation was fined for water quality violations by Department of Justice, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; $500,000 for contaminated discharge into Delaware River between 2005 to the present. 
    • Originally being notified of exceeding permitted wastewater discharge limit Dupont Corporation continued to exceed the limits resulting in regulatory action. 
    • Contaminants that were released into Delaware River were hydrogen chloride, titanium tetrachloride, iron chloride 
    • Course of action: 
      1. Fined $500,000
      2. 15 month environmental compliance assessment
      3. Implementation of a storm-water pollution prevention plan 
  • Carbon Disclosure Project:  Goal is to harness the collective power of corporations, investors, and political leaders to accelerate unified action on climate change. The Carbon Action Initiative  is a report released by the Carbon Disclosure Project that compiled and analyzed over 3,000 organizations in some 60 countries around the world: greenhouse gas emissions, water management and climate change strategies. 

Virtual Water Conference: 60 Active Water Professionals in 60 minutes!!

Dow’s Future of Water: Is a new age educational tool to grasp the attention of not only active water professionals but upcoming students as well. However, this conference was hosted by Dow Chemical Representative to learn about the role the chemistry plays in the global water crisis? The facts listed below were some that were presented in the presentations.
  1.  According to Standard and Poor’s Credit Suisse Water Index, in 1950: fresh water reserves were 17000m3  per capita. In 1995: 7300m. In the period that the world population has doubled, demand for fresh water has quadrupled. 
  2. By 2025, the UN forecasts that demand for fresh water will grow by 29% and supply will grow by 22%.
  3. Water has been announced as being a global problem. However, most of the water problems have regional and local solutions. Because “Water in main is not the same as water in Spain.”
  4. There was a HUGE focus on water Stewardship and water education. The understanding of where your water comes from (water address). Starting to inform youth about everything that we were unaware of growing up begins to develop a platform of understanding that leads to action. 
  5. Water management seems to be extremely segregated into different management techniques and the level of efficiency in each subcategory: Wastewater, freshwater, storm water and rainwater. The fading of the difference in management will overall improve the water management efficiency. 
  6. “Half the world’s hospital beds are occupied by people with preventable water-related diseases.”
  7. Per day over 600 water mains break in the United States on average. 
  8. Current water infrastructure in the western region of the United States is roughly 80 years old (if not longer) and on average 20% of the water transported within this infrastructure is lost (through leaks, breaks, and seepage). The cost of replacing current infrastructure is estimated to be $335 Billion over the course of the next 20 years. While water is currently being priced at 1/3 of a penny, water prices are expected to tremendously increase. 
  9. Mention of Biochar was a new subject mostly for  sustainable agriculture and to allow for increase soil absorption to improve soil fertility.