Beware citizens of Sioux Falls with the final reading of a proposed ordinance at this Tuesday’s City Council meeting, the Sioux Falls Water Department wishes to increase water rates by 3% in 2013 and another 3% in 2014. Presented as bargain-basement rate increases in comparison to previous years of double-digit increases, these rate increases are justified as necessary to pay off the Water Department’s debt in a shorter time frame. These rate increases are actually part of a larger Department strategy to continue a policy of sustainability in which consumers get less water while at the same time paying more for the water. Wrapped in the cloak of conservation, the Department portrays itself as taking the moral high ground while at the same time the Department allows water to be wasted by going down the river system to the Gulf of Mexico to be mingled with salt water.
During the 1990s the Water Department operated under a different, pro-consumer philosophy of processing a lot of water for a cheap price for consumers, but since that time the Department has instituted an anti-consumer policy of sustainability by charging higher prices for less water. This is quite evident in the fact that with the additional water coming from the Lewis and Clark pipeline in a few weeks and increased production capability of the water plant, the Water Department will reduce the amount of water processed from the city’s traditional water sources instead of producing more water to be sold at lower prices
Because of the abundance of water available to the city because of the Lewis and Clark pipeline, it is foolish for the Water Department to continue its anti-consumer policy of selling expensive water when additional water is readily available. By returning to a pro-consumer policy of the past, the Water Department would be imitating successful businesses in the private sector that make large profits by selling products and services to consumers at cheap prices. The Water Department could actually make more money by reducing the price of water instead of increasing the price. In terms of real conservation, the salty Gulf of Mexico would have less of our precious fresh water.
(While I agree with Kermit on the issue of supply and demand, I also think that SF water consumers should be awarded for conservation, currently they are not – DL).