Increased consumption - Water consumption is currently up over 50% from the same period last year (April 2012 versus April 2013). There has not been a population increase in Sierra Madre.
On an intuitive level this seems fairly hard to accept. Sierra Madre is by and large a community of middle-aged and retired homeowners, people who are not given to sudden radical behavioral swings. Particularly in an en masse and spontaneous lemmings gone wild sort of way. A 50% increase in anything from so staid and respectable a community as ours just doesn't seem very likely to me.
And correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't it not too long ago that City Hall was informing us that water revenues were down because the people of Sierra Madre had embraced water conservation maybe a little too enthusiastically? You remember that one, right? The claimed result being that because of this the City's water billing was down considerably, making our Water Department a financial victim of our virtue and concern. So how could water consumption be up 50% now?
I hope we're not looking at another one of City Hall's infamous and all too convenient midstream message adjustments. The claim that our current water crisis might actually be the fault of irresponsible resident behavior when something quite different might be in play would not only be unfortunate, but also a public relations tactic that we have seen before. Blaming the victim sadly being not as unusual here as many in town might think.
Any insight that you the reader can share on this matter will be appreciated. The research team is looking long and hard into this one, and if they come up with anything good we'll post it on either Monday or Tuesday. Along with any insights that you might want to offer.
Last Tuesday Evening's Best Speech?
(Mod: Apparently the outpouring of public unhappiness over mandatory water restrictions and fines at last Tuesday's City Council meeting had so profound an effect on our elected officials that we're going to do it all over again next Tuesday. One of the better speeches of that evening was given by Charles Hunter. I have been given a copy of his talk and I am adding it below.)
"I'm here to express my concern about the recently adopted Mandatory Water Rationing resolution. Something that was done rather hastily with minimum public awareness and input. This conservation plan is, in my opinion, very inequitable and discriminatory in application.
First there is the matter of choosing to average a customer's annual use for a base year and then imposing a target of 20% less than that average for all water billing periods beginning with the current period - instead of looking at the individual billing period's usage and setting a target of reduction from that level.
What this means is that single-family homeowners who are likely to have summer spikes for water usage because of their landscaping wind up with an unreasonable target as determined by your resolution. Thus making it likely they will be fined once we get into the hottest months of the year, a time that requires more water usage to avoid losing their investment in landscaping.
The vast majority of business users will not face such situations since they tend to use fairly consistent amounts of water from one billing cycle to the next. Thus there is discrimination in favor of businesses.
Most apartments do not have as much of their property dedicated to landscaping as a single family homeowner and will also be less likely to encounter fines for water usage in the coming months. To that we can also add condominium developments that, even if they have large landscaped areas, can share the cost of any fines amongst the many owners.
This is a case of discrimination primarily against single-family homeowners.
Next you chose not to unite the community in a common goal of conserving water, but instead divided it into three different categories of users subject to different treatment and requirements.
First you have created a group who are asked to make no effort to conserve any amount of water by totally exempting them from any usage target.
Secondly you have created a group who are told to reduce their usage by 10% from their average.
Finally you have placed the main burden for conservation on a 3rd group - some of whom are the most likely to face impossible to meet targets and fines or lose their landscaping. Those being the single family homeowners that i mentioned earlier.
I urge you to amend this Water Conservation Resolution so that it is more equitable and involves the participation of the entire community in the effort to conserve water."