Incentives to Conserve

I read your article about water conservation in the June 2013 edition of Water System Operator [On Tap: The Conservation Paradox]. I found it quite interesting in light of the way municipalities have handled water rates over the past years.

I work for the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department and have seen decline in water demand, and yet the costs have gone up for the customers. Although there is no immediate remedy to this, I do believe there are ways to entice the customers around the country to help in water conservation.

With the ever-increasing cost of chemicals used in water treatment plants, and the increasing cost of electricity and staffing, the term “water conservation” is the only viable and necessary practice. Lowering water rates, as we all know, just will not happen. People will continue to reduce their water consumption, and the rates will continue to rise due to lower product demand, as we have seen in the past.

Here is my idea: Municipalities have many residential/family perks — such as swimming pools, indoor hockey rinks, recreational centers, parks, and sometimes the occasional trip to an amusement park or casino. All of these the residents must pay for using. My family does not partake of these because we can get them all cheaper elsewhere.

But if cities would offer freebies to families that met a water conservation budget, I think this would help in water conservation and might also help bring future business and revenues to municipalities by showing what can be offered. Free memberships or a free day at the pool — there are many possibilities. Cities won’t go broke offering such things, and they just might help attract new residents.

I understand that cities are a big business, but in order to make residents and customers happy, incentives to reward conservation sound like a good business practice. It can show that a city cares in many ways.

Timothy S. Aggas
Senior Operator
Lake Huron Water Treatment Plant
Detroit, Mich.


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