San Antonio to introduce tiered water rates

Good for them.

The San Antonio Water System presented a proposed rate structure to the City Council on Wednesday that would penalize high-volume users while rewarding those who use less.

“This is designed to change behavior,” said Doug Evanson, SAWS chief financial officer and senior vice president.


By increasing rates for the top 7 percent of all users by 13.8 percent, SAWS believes those customers will voluntarily use less — conserving 1.4 billion gallons of water a year. According to the utility, the average consumer in the top tier would see a $20 monthly bill increase.

“You are just shifting who is paying the bill,” said District 9 Councilwoman Elisa Chan, who said although she opposes water waste, given the poor economy, rates should not be increased for any customers.

Well, yes. That’s the point. Those customers should be paying more. It’s the most effective way to encourage conservation. Let me introduce you to that Texas Water Matters report on reducing water usage, Councilwoman. You can say you oppose water waste, but that doesn’t mean anything if you don’t take sensible steps to actually combat it. And please note, once you put in such strong incentives for people to use less, you’ll wind up saving everyone money:

Because large water consumers use the most during droughts, they are driving peak demand and the need for SAWS to find new water sources, which are more expensive and raise rates for everyone, said Karen Guz, SAWS director of conservation.

Getting water from the Gulf Coast, for example, would mean building a desalination plant and pipeline at a cost of more than $1 billion.

“In the long run, conservation for San Antonio is going to be much cheaper for everyone,” McCormick said.

Sure seems like a no-brainer to me.

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