However, we here at The Tattler do soldier on, no matter how daunting the odds. As discussed in yesterday's edition of the only daily news source in town, Item C on tonight's City Council meeting agenda, the poetically titled "RECOMMENDATION TO APPROVE PARTICIPATION IN US BUREAU OF RECLAMATION WATER SMART GRANT PROGRAM AND COMMITMENT OF $75,000 IN FUNDING FOR REQUIRED LOCAL MATCHING FUNDS," goes deep into local government snooper territory. Our question being just how much information is the Water Department entitled to know about your personal water usage.
One reader comment in particular on the $75,000 WaterSMART boondoggle pretty much nailed it.
I expect this will sail on to unanimous City Council approval with barely a peep from any of the City Councilmembers on the privacy issue. I doubt that any of them care at all about that. Apparently this is a topic that has been going around for a while, and the City Council had looked into it before. It's just that the solution is new.
This came out of a request from somewhere that residents be able to monitor their water usage in real time. The problem being the cost was prohibitive. The rationale for what is being considered tonight is this would be a way to make water monitoring affordable.
But at what cost to personal privacy? If you find this a matter for at least a little bit of concern, remember these two memorable paragraphs from a not exactly impartial website called WaterWorld.com (link). Apparently this is one of the key benefits they see for the city investing your hard earned taxpayer dollars in a WaterSMART "Advanced Metering Infrastructure" system.
For a municipal water system where customers are also constituents, customer service is critical. With the detailed usage data available in an AMI system, customer service representatives have immediate access to consumers’ consumption information. When a customer calls with a high water bill complaint, the CS representative can give him a complete picture of how and when he’s using water.
“I’m telling you, it’s a pretty powerful thing when somebody calls and says there’s no way the meter is right,” said Sweeney, “and I say, ‘You are an early riser. I see you take a shower at 5 AM.’” The ability to communicate this level of information to the customer not only adds validity to the accuracy of the meter, it makes for superior customer relationships when you can quickly resolve their questions.
I cannot for the life of me figure out how this could be a good thing. Why would anyone ever want to pay for that kind of abuse?