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Straight Talk on Tiered Rates

There are two things in a brief letter to the editor of the Union-Tribune entitled “A Reminder That We Live In A Desert“ (July 7, 2007) from Annette Hubbell, a recently retired General Manager of the Rincon del Diablo water district in San Diego County, that are, or should be, of interest to anyone living in Borrego.

First, Hubbell emphasizes that water “conservation comes from accountability – one person at a time… because of tiered water rates, which most water agencies now have, those who use more water end up paying more per unit for it.” She concludes that “If it takes many tiers with exponentially higher rates to reduce wasteful water usage, then so be it.”

Second, she introduces the concept of “’water budgets’ to supplement tiered rate structures.” Water budgets, as she uses the term in this context, “assign water usage and resultant tiers according to property size;” and would seem to represent a simplified means of implementing tiered rates that even the BWD board could understand and adopt in a timely manner.

In the first instance, in Borrego it's never hard to remember that we live in a desert; but, even after years of dithering, we still don't have tiered rates despite the fact that most water agencies do. Would that the BWD board had the clear vision, determination, and resolve that Hubbell demonstrates.

In the second, the concept of "water budgets" as Hubbell employs it, appears to offer a simplified version of tiered rates that might allow the BWD board to stop dithering, get off the dime, and actually do something that will begin to save water. In any case, it’s worth checking out; nothing else seems to have that salutary effect.

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