Towns are discovering an unexpected side-effect of telling everyone to save save save water: lower water bills are resulting in a municipal income shortfall. [Toronto Star]


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  1. Funny. And Sad. Usually, conservation has win-win outcomes between the public and government.

    The worst government happens when social goals are in strict competition with fiscal ones.

  2. HRHKingFriday says:

    This just in: subrime mortgages and methheads also decrease property value and municipal income.

  3. ohiomensch says:

    This has been common practice in Cleveland for quite some time, where water rates have risen dramatically and the main reason cited was the conservation of water. I would happlily get rid of my low flow toilets and showerheads and get a rate reduction.

  4. Buran says:

    Uh, what? Looks to me like they should be paying less for the water in the first place. Looks like they mean to say “our trying to profiteer from something as basic as water is biting us in the ass”.

  5. forgottenpassword says:

    wait… so they are raising rates because people are doing the right thing & conserving water?

    Well that’s lovely. Punish people for conserving water with higher rates to repair/maintain the existing infrastructure.

    Next I expect to see an article of a city suing a person for not using enough water.

  6. manta says:

    This isn’t new, having survived droughts in California. The usual response is to increase water rates (to save water) and then raise them again when the income drops due to people saving.

    Then (wait for it) raise them again after the drought, usually due to increased demand.

    The one thing that never happens, is a return to the original rate

  7. Gene Roddenberry’s vision at looking like too bad of an idea all of a sudden is it…

  8. Elcheecho says:


    No, they’re doing what they should have done in the first place: encouraging conservation by raising rates.

    Cause and effect and all that.

  9. b612markt says:

    Same thing – but for the gas company – was on the front page of the Chicago Tribune today. So – they want to bill us for gas we DON’T USE to make up for the income they lose due to lower use.


  10. forgottenpassword says:


    but arent they STILL raising rates due to people conserving water? Meaning if they wasted more water & end up paying for doing so (thereby filling the city’s coffers) that their rates wouldnt be raised.

  11. chstwnd says:

    I wish I could find it, but there was a news story today about a guy in California that was being sued by the city for NOT generating any trash (and, therefore, similarly cutting into their revenues).

  12. catnapped says:

    No different than the electric companies who are complaining about everyone using CFLs and such (all yer conservation is costing our shareholders money!)

  13. mac-phisto says:

    Toronto alone is facing about $800 million worth of repair and replacement work, since half of the city’s water mains and 30 per cent of its sewer pipes are more than 50 years old. But last year, total revenue was only $604 million.

    i’m sorry, i don’t see how this is “hurting”. so a year’s revenue doesn’t quite cover the repairs on 50-year old pipes – what’s the problem? infrastructure repairs such as these are usually paid for with a bond anyway. assuming a 10-year bond @ 5%, the repairs cost toronto ~$1.4 billion. in that same time (assuming consumption/rates remain constant), they will have taken in $6 billion in revenue.

    it probably won’t even cost that much, b/c they’ll stagger the repair work & take out shorter bonds.

  14. kerry says:

    I know a woman who has always been very conservative with water, she uses about 50 gallons a month. Her town, however, recently implemented a mandatory 130 gallon charge for each customer. She complained that she doesn’t use 130 gallons, they said she was free to discontinue her water service.

  15. forgottenpassword says:


    Yeah, the town I live in goes by 100 gal minimum & rounds up to the next 100 gal. So if I use 201 gallons of water…. i automatically get charged for 300 gallons.

  16. vastrightwing says:

    Yes, I knew this would happen when people started conserving. Please… please do not conserve water. Cities and towns are going to go into dept and then simply raise your rates to make up for it!

    Also, don’t buy Hybrids for exactly the same reason: our government relies on gas taxes the same way. If you conserve gas (use less), this translates into less revenue for cities and towns. This also means do not use public transportation either. In Boston, public transportation is running into large deficits and by using the ‘T’, not only are you encouraging deficit spending, you are reducing the fees and tolls they depend on by not driving your car.

    Think that using CFL light bulbs are the way to save? Think again. The electric utilities have an infrastructure to support and they depend on you using a minimum amount of kilowatts in order to keep revenue up. Once a critical mass starts using CFL bulbs, revenue will go down and rates will go… .yep…. UP!

    In short, conservation by too many people will result in less revenue for cities and public utilities. Please think before you conserve. Thank you!

  17. Rectilinear Propagation says:


    I wonder how long it’s going to take the governments in the Southeast to do this (water, not garbage).

  18. taka2k7 says:

    In New Mexico they are talking about passing a law to help the local power company, PNM, recoup losses due to encouraging people to conserve. Somehow they are going to pass along the cost to the consumer.

    Anyone have any ideas on what the solution to this is? We need to encourage conservation but the companies need to remain in business. Maybe cities should live within their means and run a surplus in case of a rainy day.

  19. Elcheecho says:

    it’s not an “either/or,” it’s an “and.”

    it’s not we want money or conservation, it’s we realized we like both.