News Feature | May 16, 2014

Conservation Driving Water Rates Up

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Conservation may not be paying off for water users in Albuquerque, where water rates are rising despite a marked drop in usage

As the Albuquerque Journal put it, "Congratulations on your water conservation success, Albuquerque. As a reward, you get another rate hike."

Conservation may have actually exacerbated the need to raise rates, since it means the city's water provider is making less money than usual. 

"With revenue down as a result of dropping water sales, the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority board will consider a 5 percent rate increase beginning July 1. The average homeowner’s water bill would rise roughly $3 per month, according to a report to be presented to the utility’s board of directors," the report said. 

Conservation efforts were more successful than officials anticipated. "The city saved much more water this year than expected," KRQE reported. “Basically [we] achieved our 10-year water conservation goal in one year instead of ten," said David Morris, public affairs manager for the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, to KOAT

Water infrastructure upgrades were cited as part of the rationale for raising rates. That includes the rehabilitation of a sewage plant, built in the '60s, on the south side of the city. 

“As water use goes down and we get less revenue, it does become necessary to occasionally adjust the rates so we can keep revenue where it needs to be to do these infrastructure projects,” Morris said in the KRQE report.

In a separate decision, utility officials are also considering whether to add fluoride to the water. "In 2011, officials removed fluoride from drinking water. But the water authority is considering adding it again after a non-profit that serves low-income families raised concerns about the low levels of natural fluoride in the city's drinking water," according to KOB. 

Image credit: "Manzano Mountains Albuquerque," Señor Zozo © 2012, used under an Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license:

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