Streamline - Winter 2012 - (Page 21)

What About Water Rates? SUBMITTED BY BOB GAY, CIRCUIT RIDER II LET’S LOOK AT water rates from the beginning. Later, we will include some of the ever-growing challenges that we face in order to deliver this most valuable resource to the faucet. Be less willing to complain about the next water rate increase, and think of something more pleasant as you see that cool clear water stream from that faucet. Most drinking water comes directly or indirectly from one of two sources: groundwater (wells and springs) and surface water (rivers, streams, lakes, man- made impoundments, etc.). Basically, all drinking water is directly or indirectly replenished by rain and snow. Rain can take one or two routes on its journey to become safe drinking water. Some rain infiltrates the ground and travels down to form aquifers. Some of these droplets are purified by soil, rock and humus on their downward journey, but not all. Other rain water may be captured in the surface waters of streams and other waterways. These must be cleaned and disinfected before safely distributed as potable water. The next step to delivering potable water depends on many factors, such as amount and pressure needed, distance to customers and geography of the area. Usually some type of storage facility will provide the volume and pressure. Pipe size and terrain are two of the important factors in this delivery process. The next major element in this delivery structure is the measurement of the amount delivered. The customer’s meter records the vital measurements that helps determine the revenue to pay for this process. Words like “meter measurements” and “revenue” point to the challenges that require this revenue to become higher and higher. I am talking about the justification of rate increases. Droughts are cyclical events. The two main sources of drinking water are like two big milkshakes, and as demand grows, it’s like adding more straws to those shakes. Water supplies cannot be taken for granted as more and more straws are inserted. Many more contaminants from both surface and subsurface water are showing up, even in our potable drinking water. Most are there in the raw water source and purification processes are struggling to define and upgrade in order to remove them. Water purification is already a highly-sophisticated process that requires highly-qualified certified operators that have massive amounts of tests to run and certifications that must be met. More challenges will come and many certified operators will retire from a profession that is not being pursued by a younger generation, which results in a drastic shortage of certified operators. Many years ago, our predecessors did a great job of building many water and wastewater systems that have served us in an outstanding manner. Probably no other man-made infrastructure has served us as well with little or no attention. The “Out of sight, out of mind” mentality is catching up with us now. Let me recap what we think of as we turn on that faucet: Here is a vital resource without which we cannot live. It faces threats from quantity depletion, contamination, failing infrastructure, growth, certified operator shortage and rising cost of materials – without enough money to ensure the future. I hear many promises by decision makers that include a promise not to raise the rates. How many times have I heard a board or council member state, “We have many older people on fixed incomes”? Guess what? They will be the ones to suffer the most when the spout is opened and nothing comes out. Be less willing to complain about the next water rate increase, and think of something more pleasant as you see that cool clear water stream from that faucet. Water is our most valuable resource! 21

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Winter 2012

From the President
From the Executive Director
Groundwater in the Karst Landscape
There’s a Chill in the Air!
Chloramines in Question
Preventative (Planned) Maintenance II
What About Water Rates?
How to Get a Great Rate Analyst
Membership Directory
Wastewater Math
Throwing My Loop
eLearning Benefits
Membership Application
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefi ts Are?
VRWA Mailbag
Welcoming New Members
Training Calendar
Board Of Directors
VRWA Committees
Index To Advertisers/

Streamline - Winter 2012