Thursday, April 9, 2009
EXTRA! EXTRA! News & Record braking news about Greensboro water!
The Sunday News & Record was chock-full of dishonest reporting about Greensboro water. The N&R recruited academic “water experts” Bill Holman (Duke) and Richard Whisnant (UNC) to continue its decade of propaganda that casts Greensboro water as the patron saint of hydrology and supports every City effort including the Randleman Dam. c According to these walk-on water experts and today’s N&R editorial, Greensboro has done EVERYTHING right and nothing wrong. Baloney! As Greensboro’s only Water Conservation Manager I can assure you these experts and the N&R are deliberately reporting half-truths while withholding crucial facts that would indicate corruption committed by City officials. Without this information citizens have no choice but to accept Greensboro’s skyrocketing water rates as a consequence of "running out of water"—another untruth. Unless they find my blog, citizens will never discover how they were scammed into the purchase of a dam and a whopping 53% of Randleman Lake. News & Record Braking News Here's the other "half" of the half-truths published in the News & Record c The double whammy of N&R propaganda came from distant professors whose essays were published on Sunday. Then a follow-up N&R editorial on Wednesday cemented the claims of these experts and continued to play on fear that the resource is running out. First, let’s review what professor “experts” Bill Holman and Richard Whisnant had to say in their April 5 N&R essay “Greensboro developing a resilient water system.” c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “The city has steadily worked to diversify its sources of water supply beyond its small reservoirs of Lake Brandt, Lake Higgins and Lake Townsend.” c BARON: That’s untrue! Utility Director Ray Shaw deliberately refused to connect water lines to adjacent cities like Burlington which had water to spare. He would rather see Greensboro’s reservoirs run dry---to get the dam approved! And that’s how Greensboro made its case for the Randleman Dam. c FACT: Only after the Randleman Dam was approved Greensboro connected to adjacent cities offering water. And that’s just the tip of the melted iceberg! Greensboro did all sorts of things to manipulate its water works and reservoirs to make them appear woefully inadequate! c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “It has also worked to increase water efficiency and to make its water system resilient to future droughts and shortages.” c BARON: That’s untrue! Greensboro did everything it could to keep its EPA award-winning one-man Water Conservation program from succeeding. The WC program proved itself as a best management practice that was “making new water” for Greensboro at a fraction of the cost of water produced by Greensboro’s treatment plants. The 2 billion gallons of water saved by WC was named, “Lake Efficiency—Greensboro’s newest reservoir” and it became a threat to the approval process for the Randleman Dam. So the “experts” do not know what they are writing about. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “Greensboro was a poster child for sound water management during the 2007-2008 drought.” c BARON: Baloney! If you knew what I know—and you will shortly—this admiration from the experts is hilarious! By the 2007-2008 drought Greensboro had FIRED its award-winning WC manager and never replaced him, transferred its WC technician to the business office and never replaced her, and it closed the Water Conservation Office which the EPA recognized as one of the top ten programs in the United States! Greensboro has no Water Conservation program today and the N&R which has always been “pro-conservation” refuses to report about the disappearance of Greensboro's WC program and WC staff! c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “Greensboro knows the value of water.” c BARON: Hooray for the sperts! They got this one right! Yes, Greensboro does know the value of water! That’s why Greensboro has always sold all the water it can preferring that no water spill over the dam and travel downstream to other cities in the Cape Fear River Basin! Greensboro like many municipal utilities is a water-selling machine disguised as a service. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “Greensboro was among the first of water systems in North Carolina to implement tiered water rates, or conservation pricing.” c BARON: Wrong! The sperts are only regurgitating what they have been fed by Greensboro. They are unaware that during its scam for the dam Greensboro maintained DECLINING BLOCK water rates and discounted the resource to large users. Greensboro was declaring itself “running out of water” and yet its water rates were the lowest in NC—43% lower than other NC cities. And, it sold irrigation water below cost to drop the reservoirs to dangerous levels. This was all done to put fear into citizens and into the feds to gain approval of the Randleman Dam. c FACT: Only after the dam was approved did Greensboro change over to an INCREASING BLOCK RATE and raise its prices! c And what the City or the N&R won’t tell citizens is that it had to begin charging more for water because water sales were declining (Click on CHART to view FULL SIZE). Water sales are the same as 1995 right now and you wouldn’t know it without having discovered my stories. So right about now these “experts” have no credibility to comment on Greensboro water. If they wish to defend their claims perhaps they would like to accept my challenge to debate Greensboro water at a time and place of their choosing. I have no PhD, just the truth on my side. It would be exciting to take on Duke and Carolina in the same debate and have the underdog triumph. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: "While many water systems charged their largest residential customers less per gallon used, Greensboro started charging its largest residential customers more. The policy has worked." c BARON: TRUE! After the Randleman Dam was approved Greensboro THEN began charging what the resource was really worth. And after significant rate hikes water use began to go down. We did not need two college professors to explain to us that the more you charge for something the less of it will be used. Isn’t it just like academic bureaucrats to call charging more a “policy?” If Greensboro did the prudent things to protect its water supply it could have never made its case for the Randleman Dam. Instead Greensboro manipulated its water works and its citizens and let the ends justify the means for the dam project. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “The greatest and most cost-effective source of “new” water to sustain population, economic growth, and the environment is water efficiency.” c BARON: This is true! And we proved it using numerous incentives and demonstration projects. And once WC began to succeed Utility Director Ray Shaw began restricting the effort. After Shaw retired Water Director Allan Williams continued to thwart WC because it was reducing water use and it had become a threat to the approval process of the Randleman Dam. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “Customers have responded to higher prices and become more efficient.” c BARON: Well DUH. If you charge more, people will use less. We already knew that. But Greensboro did not start jacking up its water rates until after the dam was approved. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “Greensboro also was among the first cities to hire a water conservation coordinator.” c BARON: FALSE! A WC coordinator was hired solely because Greensboro could never argue for the Randleman Dam without a WC program. However, once WC began reducing water use, Greensboro fired its WC Manager and it never replaced him. The professors would have discovered Greensboro disbanded its WC program if they did their own research. The N&R knows this so why won’t it report that Greensboro no longer has a WC program? c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “Greensboro bills its customers monthly to provide them current information about their water consumption.” c BARON: It is billing them monthly now instead of quarterly because low income customers can no longer afford quarterly bills after rate increases like 9% Jan. 1! Rates will increase about 7% annually to pay for Randleman and make up for lost revenue from sagging water sales. The News & Record won't report about Greensboro's dismal water sales because that would inform people that water use is declining. Citizens still falsely believe water use is increasing and the scammers are loving it. cc EXPERT’S CLAIM: “Greensboro has partnered with the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority to build the $140 million Randleman Reservoir on the Deep River.” c BARON: Greensboro tricked its citizens and the feds into believing it was running out of water so it could build the $140 million Randleman Reservoir on the Deep River. My blog contains plenty of evidence and yet no Greensboro media outlet or local reporter has dared to touch this subject. They know that if they address my charges the public will learn that water use is declining while the water works continues to expand. Once the cat is out of the bag, citizens will realize that rates are going sky high because much less water is being sold. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “Greensboro may be the only major city in North Carolina with a comprehensive water resources department.” c BARON: False! These experts have no remaining credibility! You cannot have a comprehensive water resources department without a well-funded water conservation program and staff. In 1999 Holman was named Conservationist of the Year by the North Carolina Wildlife Federation. You think he would spot the lack of conservation when it does not exist. Greensboro has no water conservation budget and no water conservation staff! This proves you don’t have to do your homework if you have a PhD and you have been identified as an “expert” by the News & Record. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “However, thanks to wise planning, a good balance of policies to reduce demand and increase supply, forward-looking political leaders willing to raise revenues for water services, and the willingness of its citizens to pay for high-quality water services, Greensboro has developed a diverse, resilient and assured water supply system.” c BARON: This proves what we all learned in college—that PhD stands for Piled Higher and Deeper. FALSE!—it was covert planning and deceptive scheming that secured the Randleman Dam. Remember, getting Randleman's water was a secret plan of certain City officials to attract Northern manufacturers looking to relocate. It was not to alleviate low reservoirs---the announced purpose. Greensboro would have not had low reservoirs if it prudently managed its water supply. c Now that manufacturers went to the Far East instead of the Sunbelt, the Randleman project is being redefined and justified as a drought mitigation exercise. They won’t tell you that in a drought Randleman Lake will be empty just like every other reservoir is empty. The scammers are fearful that eventually somebody besides me will report that water demand is way down and 10 million gallons a day below forecast (Click on CHART). c Note how the sperts are implying that citizens will gladly pay more for quality water. Not true! Once citizens discover they’ve been scammed for a dam you can expect them to revolt. If Greensboro water wasn’t a monopoly customers could just stop buying it. But now citizens have no choice but to pay for an unnecessary dam and lake. And the more the rate increases, the less water everyone will use…which means that Greensboro’s own reservoirs are getting "larger." c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “Greensboro is leading the way for a 21st century of scarce and valuable water resources.” c BARON: More PhD (Piled higher and deeper) propaganda to pitch Greensboro as a model for excellence in water resource planning and conceal the fact that water sales are suffering due to a decade of declining water demand. c “Will N.C. have enough water?” Sunday April 5th N&R, by “experts” Bill Holman and Richard Whisnant c EXPERT’S CLAIM: The water resources that sustained a population of 4 million in 1960 and barely sustained 9 million during the 2007-08 drought will have to sustain a population of over 12 million in 2030. Our 20th-century water policy is inadequate for our 21st-century population and economy." c BARON: I hope the academic experts are better than Greensboro Utility Director Ray Shaw when it comes to predicting future water needs (see my CHART). In 2008 Greensboro was “off” by 12 million gallons a day for an entire year. Demand was predicted to be 42.4mgd. However, Greensboro only used 30.9mgd in 2008. Demand was grossly inflated to justify the Randleman Dam. The News & Record has never reported the huge descrepency between the forecast and the actual amount of water used. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: “The General Assembly should take other steps this year to modernize our water policies and to improve management of water resources.” c BARON: How will the General Assembly force Greensboro to better manage its water when state officials and academic experts cannot even spot a water fraud to justify the Randleman Dam? Will it require Greensboro to begin water conservation again? c EXPERT’S RECOMENDATION: "Address critical water research and study needs." c BARON: Greensboro needed no research and no study to alleviate its low reservoirs that justified the Randleman Dam. I proposed dozens of ways to grow Greensboro’s reservoirs and reduce water demand and City officials would not listen to them. Water use had already begun to decline and they became very nervous that if water conservation continued to reduce demand they would no longer be able to demonstrate (fabricate) a need for the dam. That's why I had to go. City officials were praising my program's achievements before the cameras but behind closed doors they were discussing ways to halt water conservation. That's why there is no WC program today. Listen to this audio clip of my phone call to the bogus water conservation phone number listed on the Water page. c EXPERT’S RECOMENDATION: "Reward and spread best practices and leadership in water efficiency and integrate water and energy-efficiency efforts." c BARON: We were winning national awards for water efficiency demonstration projects and Greensboro’s managers and officials stopped us! We reduced water use in three Greensboro apartments by 33%. Enough water was saved annually from this project to support 185 new single-family residences in Greensboro (Click on SIGN). The more water we saved the more our effort was suppressed. Water use began to decline and the water department began losing revenue from water sales. c Director Allan Williams was visiting Water Accounts Manager Herb Williams DAILY hoping that more water would be sold because his budget was suffering due to a successful WC program. So Greensboro fired its WC Manager and eventually shut down its WC program. I wonder what Holman and Whisnant think after learning this? If they did their homework and found my stories they would have known Greensboro fired its WC Manager and never replaced him. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: "For the price of one fast-food value meal we get 1,000 gallons of clean water delivered to our homes under pressure." c BARON: I think homes “not under pressure” should get the same service. (SMILEY FACE) c EXPERT’S CLAIM: "The era of cheap and abundant water in North Carolina and other Southern states is ending. We will value it more and price it accordingly." c BARON: True, however Greensboro’s water customers will end up paying much more for water because Greensboro purchased 53% of Randleman Lake and cannot use it. On top of that, Greensboro may be forced to purchase daily water from Randleman that it does not need. I said “Just watch” regarding Greensboro’s phony 1995 water forecast and after a decade of consumption my prediction came true. Greensboro inflated its forecast to cement the dam scam (See CHART). Now just watch what happens after Randleman water begins flowing. The price of water will rise because Greensboro will have to purchase a daily allotment that it does not need. c The combined costs of replacing aging water infrastructure, paying for new infrastructure to support growth, and developing more expensive new sources of water will increase the costs of water services. Greensboro purchased too much of Randleman Lake when Burlington has water to sell even during a drought. The unnecessary Randleman project will cause water rates to go through the roof. Just watch. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: "Industries expanding or locating in North Carolina and the South have always asked about water services. Regions and states that can assure their citizens and their industries that clean water is available will have a competitive advantage in a world of water shortages and uncertainty." c BARON: Industries have gone to China. Now it is businesses that we hope to recruit and most of them are not water intensive (i.e. FEDEX). When the dam scam was taking shape it was new manufacturing industries that were supposed to locate here and run on Randleman water. c EXPERT’S CLAIM: "Greensboro is leading the way for a 21st century of scarce and valuable water resources." c BARON: Isn’t it interesting that both authors failed to point out that Greensboro water use is radically below what was forecasted in 1995 and both authors failed to mention that Greensboro water use has declined for more than a decade? I wonder if they even know. The Internet says “Bill Holman is unquestionably one of the Southeast’s most respected and effective environmental advocates.” He sure fooled me. I saved 2 billion gallons of Greensboro. I wonder how much water these PhD's have saved. c Once again the News & Record is carrying water for Greensboro water. The citizens will read these sophomoric essays and conclude exactly what Greensboro officials want them to conclude. And the dam scam continues. Please inform others. c News & Record Editorial: The challenge of water, April 8, 2009 N&R: "Many North Carolina cities approached the point of water insolvency less than two years ago. Without better planning, worse can happen the next time." c BARON: Greensboro’s covert planning that pitched the Randleman Dam by hook or crook was superb! Its objective was achieved. The public is clueless. c N&R: “Water experts Bill Holman at Duke University and Richard Whisnant at UNC-Chapel Hill issued a clear warning in our Ideas section Sunday. North Carolina's population continues to grow at a brisk pace.” c BARON: Greensboro’s population has grown significantly over the past decade and yet water use has declined significantly over the past decade. THIS IS THE NEWS THAT THE N&R REFUSES TO REPORT! Holman and Whisnant probably don’t know because they didn’t look. If they do know and they kept quiet about it then they are charlatans. (DoubleClick on AWARDS IMAGE) c N&R: "Budgeting water resources against needs requires better information." c BARON: Vital information has been systematically concealed from citizens by the daily newspaper. c N&R: "Using too much water upstream may leave too little for communities downstream." c BARON: What, like the City of Sanford after Randleman consumes most of the Deep River leaving Sanford a trickle? Greensboro is famous for allowing no water to escape over the dam. Sell it! c N&R: “Over-development downstream can create unreasonable demand.” c BARON: Notice how the N&R is all for local development and growth but it suggests that over-development be curtailed downstream so as not to over-consume water. Well that’s great for Greensboro since it is at the very top of the Cape Fear River Basin. I wonder what Wilmington would say about Greensboro’s over-development. c N&R: The time has come when everyone must be held accountable for water-use decisions. c BARON: Like Greensboro’s decision to use all the water in its reservoirs to justify the Randleman Dam? …And Greensboro’s decision to eliminate its WC program? c N&R: Holman and Whisnant apply basic rules of economics when they predict that water is going to become much more expensive. It's a matter of supply and demand. c BARON: FALSE! Contrary to all reporting Greensboro has an abundance of supply and it will soon double. Water will become radically more expensive for two reasons: 1. Because Greensboro purchased much more Randleman water than it can ever use and now it must pay for it. 2. Declining water sales mean that Greensboro must charge more for ever unit sold. Experts Holman and Whisnant missed both of these factors. c N&R: "Cost increases can be minimized by sensible means, such as conservation and replacement or repair of leaky lines." c BARON: That’s absurd. The rising price of Greensboro water is causing less of it to be used. The result is declining water sales which will cause more rate increases in the future. c N&R: "Rain won't automatically increase to keep up with population growth, so it's necessary to make better use of what nature provides." c BARON: First, the N&R fails to inform its readers that Greensboro’s population is increasing and its water use is decreasing. How can that be? There are two reasons for this. First, water intensive manufacturers—Greensboro’s best $$$ customers—have relocated to the Far East. Second, higher pricing is causing customers to use less water. For example, Greensboro finally began socking it to its water sprinkler customers and now lawn watering is declining. That means the City has much more water left in its reservoirs for other uses. Please feel free to comment! Remember to pass this information to Greensboro water customers. Just tell them to Google two words--dam scam.
Posted by Mike J Baron at 9:30 PM