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Highest water prices, lowest water use

By 30 November 2010 27

The Canberra Times has the thrilling news that Canberra has the most expensive water in the nation by some margin.

Oddly enough we also have the lowest water use.

Who’d have thought that would work?

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27 Responses to Highest water prices, lowest water use
#1
shadow boxer11:07 am, 30 Nov 10

Somebody has to fund ACTEW’s lack of planning, sky high salaries, ridiculous advertising campaigns and ongoing largesse.

#2
housebound11:08 am, 30 Nov 10

I didn’t think this was news. It has been such for a few years now – ever since ACTEW decided it needed to raise the unit charge to cope with falling revenue due to water restrictions.

#3
Snarky11:18 am, 30 Nov 10

Water cost doesn’t drive my water usage – it’s the perceived scarcity that determines that I don’t take long showers, don’t choose to water a lawn with fresh water or don’t install a pool.

Whether my perception that we don’t really have a lot of spare water lying around is accurate or not is wide open to debate – certainly when the water storages are running at 90%+ full it’s hard to argue the place is a desert.

But I can’t put images of the last few droughts out of my mind, nor can I readily forget that nearby places like Goulburn were really doing it a hell of a lot tougher than we were.

At current capacity we have about 185,000 ML of water stashed away. The city uses on average about 150ML a day over the year (my guess). That’s a bit more than 3 years of water, assuming no other inputs which is clearly unrealistic, but… the last drought lasted 7 years.

I’ll stick to a 3 minute shower and continue dumping the washing and washing up water on the garden not because it’s cheaper but because it makes me feel better.

#4
Grail11:29 am, 30 Nov 10

It’s not just perception, Snarky. We just don’t have that many options for collecting potable water within easy pumping distance (and height) from Canberra.

There aren’t any resource supply problems that reducing the population won’t solve.

#5
astrojax11:35 am, 30 Nov 10

Snarky said :

Water cost doesn’t drive my water usage – it’s the perceived scarcity that determines that I don’t take long showers, don’t choose to water a lawn with fresh water or don’t install a pool.

Whether my perception that we don’t really have a lot of spare water lying around is accurate or not is wide open to debate – certainly when the water storages are running at 90%+ full it’s hard to argue the place is a desert.

But I can’t put images of the last few droughts out of my mind, nor can I readily forget that nearby places like Goulburn were really doing it a hell of a lot tougher than we were.

At current capacity we have about 185,000 ML of water stashed away. The city uses on average about 150ML a day over the year (my guess). That’s a bit more than 3 years of water, assuming no other inputs which is clearly unrealistic, but… the last drought lasted 7 years.

I’ll stick to a 3 minute shower and continue dumping the washing and washing up water on the garden not because it’s cheaper but because it makes me feel better.

but of course, one of the contributors to your perception [true or otherwise] is the non-conscious message you acquire through the price point – it is high so your brain logically assumes of its own accord – or proactively you tell it – that this means less water…

#6
Captain RAAF11:37 am, 30 Nov 10

Snarky said :

… the last drought lasted 7 years.

You do know it did actually rain here during that time?

There would have to be some biblical dry spell for us to ever run out of water, aint gonna happen. Using Goulburn as the example of how close you can come to running out of water during a an extended drought period is not taking into account it’s unsatisfactory water catchment and storage facilities.

And, as I predicted, the rains and floods are here and we are now back at 100%, some areas are at about 150% – 200% but you can bet that one day, about 7-10 years from now we’ll once again be at 47% water capacity and people will be running around exclaiming that we are all going to die and we must start drinking our own urine and recycled poo water!

Start building your Ark because this is just the start, it’s a pity we don’t have some mega dams in Australia like most of the rest of the world does because we could be stocking up for decades right now.

#7
Holden Caulfield11:43 am, 30 Nov 10

Is this the trade-off for the highest average wage, for the least average working hours, haha?!

#8
TVStar11:47 am, 30 Nov 10

shadow boxer said :

Somebody has to fund ACTEW’s lack of planning, sky high salaries, ridiculous advertising campaigns and ongoing largesse.

Agreed.

It’s not like I was not going to buy any water, until I was tipped of about this newfangled product that now comes in taps buy those nice people at ACTEW at a cocktail party, and decided to give it a go.

#9
Snarky11:52 am, 30 Nov 10

Captain RAAF said :

There would have to be some biblical dry spell for us to ever run out of water, aint gonna happen…

I don’t think this thread is the one for a re-hash of climate change fanaticism or denial. I’ll just say I personally doubt this part of the world is about to turn tropical.
“it’s a pity we don’t have some mega dams in Australia like most of the rest of the world does because we could be stocking up for decades right now.”

True. But we don’t, so we can’t.

Astrojax said:

“…but of course, one of the contributors to your perception [true or otherwise] is the non-conscious message you acquire through the price point…”

No, to be honest I rarely if ever look at the water component of the bill – sewerage costs far more.

#10
CLooLoo12:16 pm, 30 Nov 10

I’m sure ACTEW’s exceptionally generous employee wages have nothing to do with the ridiculous price increases!

#11
troll-sniffer12:19 pm, 30 Nov 10

Seems to my poor little brain, the brain that somehow manages to miss the logic behind the climate-sceptics’ scientifically researched and published positions, that pricing water at just the point where the cost for the average user is still good value while making most people assess the value of wasting a resource, has to be a good thing.

As is usually the case, the type of deep thinker who assumes that because water that falls in the ACT is not fully harvested, it is somehow going to waste, is always going to whinge and carry on about the imposition of any sort of charge on a resource that is his or her birthright to fully use at their discretion.

It’s not too great a leap into an intellectual NRL-free zone to work out that as the population of Straya rises, finite resources of all shapes, sizes and states will become progressively more expensive. A responsible guvmnt manages the transitions from abundance to scarcity in an equitable way, and pricing water to limit demand is generally recognised throughout the world as the best action to take.

#12
georgesgenitals12:39 pm, 30 Nov 10

Reducing use is a good thing, no doubt. But we need to recognise that:
a) reducing our use will only get us so far, eventually we will get to a point of minimum consumption per person
b) the population is growing and will continue to do so
c) charging for water to help with (a) above is reasonable.

However, we WILL need more catchment and storage at some point, and now is a great time to be planning. The Cotter expansion is a great start.

#13
chewy1412:49 pm, 30 Nov 10

CLooLoo said :

I’m sure ACTEW’s exceptionally generous employee wages have nothing to do with the ridiculous price increases!

Seeing as I think ACTEW only has 50 employees i’m guessing it doesn’t.

#14
astrojax12:57 pm, 30 Nov 10

Snarky said :

No, to be honest I rarely if ever look at the water component of the bill – sewerage costs far more.

maybe, but the point is the nonconscious processing your brain does – you read sites like these, you see news reports, you hear people talk about water prices: you absorb this information one way or another…

#15
James-T-Kirk1:16 pm, 30 Nov 10

Seems like capitalism at work – If you don’t sell much of something, then it is expensive.

#16
Mathman1:41 pm, 30 Nov 10

Here’s an example from my water bill that illustrates the point.

In 2005 our water usage was 328Kl and our bill was $801.
In 2010 our water usage was 245Kl and our bill was $1169.

So a 25% drop in consumption still resulted in a 46% increase in charges.

#17
shadow boxer1:52 pm, 30 Nov 10

And therein lies the problem with the current crop of environmentalists.

It seems the only solutions they have to force compliance is price, it doesn’t matter if its plastic bags, carparking, water use, solar energy, carbon use, light globes, recreational fishing or going to the tip. Just smash the user with price increases until they submit your will.

This current crop of greens will be remembered for their ability to force a wedge between the haves and have-nots that will take generations to resolve.

#18
TVStar2:36 pm, 30 Nov 10

shadow boxer said :

And therein lies the problem with the current crop of environmentalists.

It seems the only solutions they have to force compliance is price, it doesn’t matter if its plastic bags, carparking, water use, solar energy, carbon use, light globes, recreational fishing or going to the tip. Just smash the user with price increases until they submit your will.

This current crop of greens will be remembered for their ability to force a wedge between the haves and have-nots that will take generations to resolve.

+1

#19
essfer3:16 pm, 30 Nov 10

shadow boxer said :

And therein lies the problem with the current crop of environmentalists.

It seems the only solutions they have to force compliance is price, it doesn’t matter if its plastic bags, carparking, water use, solar energy, carbon use, light globes, recreational fishing or going to the tip. Just smash the user with price increases until they submit your will.

This current crop of greens will be remembered for their ability to force a wedge between the haves and have-nots that will take generations to resolve.

I want to give you a +1 for this comment, but you’ve offered no alternative to taxing everything to force compliance. Appealing to the collective consciousness has limited success, otherwise we wouldn’t need to charge for plastic bags.

Everyone knows that a plastic bag takes 6 billion years to become a flower, but there are people who still choose it as it is the cheaper option. If you take away the price benefit of using the ‘irresponsible’ product then many will convert.

I’d think the majority WANT to be environmentally responsible, but if it means stretching the already strained household budget then the environment comes second.

#20
essfer3:43 pm, 30 Nov 10

Is it possible that companies take advantage of the environmental empathy movement?

Consider: As a simple effect of supply vs demand, if Green Energy is used by the majority of consumers, the unit cost should theoretically end up less than using energy from Coal burners.

The more a market supports a product the greater the collective economy of scale. The manufacturer has funds to increase R & D, reinvest in processes and improve efficiencies and so on. In the end the cost comes down because there is so much consumer spending invested in it. Think Plasma TVs – you can buy a better TV now for a few hundred than you could get for $20k when the technology was new.

If 70% of consumers were using green energy, the coal plants would be serving such a small segment of the total market that it would be more expensive per unit to keep the old smoker running. Call me a skeptic, but I’ll bet you a pineapple that when we get there renewable energy from the same retailer will still cost more than it’s stinky older brother.

Now consider a Prius: The technology is no longer new or exclusive, the car is roughly equal to your average $25k hatchback in appointments, yet you pay a premium… I’m guessing its not for beauty of design or braking capabilities, so you’re just paying extra for the illusion of Greenness.

#21
shadow boxer3:47 pm, 30 Nov 10

I agree the majority want to be responsible, and as a father of four these increases tax me at a rate of 3-4 times the childless Dickson couple. But that’s my decision and my problem.

The technology for most of these solutions is close and the drive to market should be driven by those that can afford it, forcing a single mother working a 30-40k job to pay twice as much for electricity because she can’t afford solar or rents or three times as much for water because she can’t afford a tank, is mean and selfish.

By all means encourage the rich to change, perhaps in the same way we encourage the taking out of private health insurance, but at the end of the day if you don’t have an economic and viable solution to the status quo, and the issue is so important, then we should find or develop one before we march off into an ecological nirvana and leave a trail of downtrodden poor behind us. (Sorry a bit melodramatic but I kind of liked it).

#22
Usermane5:07 pm, 30 Nov 10

All this and the Greens still can’t get over our “huge water wastage problem” and the feds still want to cut Canberra’s water allocation so that more of our water can flow out to sea.

#23
Barney Trouble8:38 pm, 30 Nov 10

I’m glad the Victorian election has shown the first signs of a backlash against this overbearing Greens movement as people finally start to realise their policies will simply strip away the standard of living of hard working Australians that have been providing the taxes for the unemployment benefits half of their supporters are on and subsidising the wasteful green schemes such as the solar schemes that the other half of their supporters are rich enough to afford.

Instead of at least maintaining playing fields and public areas during the last bout of water restrictions, we now have to spend millions getting them repaired, now the inevitable rain falls have returned.

I would love to know the logic behind making a family of 4 or 5 have to see a lovely lawn die off so their kids can’t play on it and electricity costs rise due to no more cooling from it, yet some obnoxious prick, who will walk past and give you death stares because you are trying to at least keep your plants alive, can go home and stand in their shower for an hour.

#24
breda9:05 pm, 30 Nov 10

“Everyone knows that a plastic bag takes 6 billion years to become a flower, but there are people who still choose it as it is the cheaper option. If you take away the price benefit of using the ‘irresponsible’ product then many will convert.”

Hilarious! 6 billion years to become a flower! Oh, my sides.

The use of the word ‘convert’ is very revealing.

Slugging the poor as a sacrifice on the altar of ‘green-ness’ just highlights that the majority of Green voters are comparatively wealthy inner city dwellers (or affluent Canberrans) who think that social justice means increasing the pain for those who don’t comply with their agenda.

#25
georgesgenitals7:21 am, 01 Dec 10

breda said :

Slugging the poor as a sacrifice on the altar of ‘green-ness’ just highlights that the majority of Green voters are comparatively wealthy inner city dwellers (or affluent Canberrans) who think that social justice means increasing the pain for those who don’t comply with their agenda.

+ 6 billion.

#26
shadow boxer8:22 am, 01 Dec 10

Correct, there is no economic reason that electricity prices needed to triple, it is not costing more to produce, it is simply a tax grab camouflaged as green-ness.

Even if it did it would make far more sense to take the subsidies currently being provided to the rich greenies of O’connor and Lyneham and give them to first home buyers as part of the first home buyers grant provided they are spent on solar.

this would give our young people a bit more of a kick start in life and stop the carbon problem getting any worse as 90% of new homes would then be built with solar power.

No votes in that approach though.

#27
essfer10:54 am, 01 Dec 10

The gummints (federal and local) cannot serve us effectively while they are conflicted by the need to secure revenue and/or votes. It’s the same problem that exists with affordability of housing and banning cigarettes.

The majority of environmental action taken by “the man” is a token gesture, and as long as big business and industry form a large part of the voting spectrum I doubt this will change.

Stupid band-aid solutions serve little purpose in the real world, but the actions that could make a real difference would either risk their support from an important segment of the voting population, or would limit spending on important things like health care, education, housing and policing.

Or more importantly on things like travel, conferences, public art, QLD grass, or the innumerable other places that our tax dollars ACTUALLY get wasted.

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