Thursday, June 11, 2009
How Greensboro manipulated lawn watering to get the Randleman Dam approved
Browner lawns coming this summer because irrigation metered water is very expensive! There are two (2) reasons why fewer Greensboro citizens will be watering their lawns this summer: REASON NUMBER ONE: First, water rates have gone up 9% this season (and maybe even more on the outdoor meters—I don’t know). A 9% rate hike is going to put the kibosh on irrigation for all but the very wealthy. In addition, there is a financial penalty for extra consumption. It’s called an increasing block rate. Before the dam was approved Greensboro maintained a decreasing block rate that actually discounted water to customers who purchased lots of it. By overselling irrigation water through separate meters Greensboro was able to sell off the reservoirs every summer and justify the Randleman Dam. It is amazing that nobody had figured this out sooner—that Greensboro sold its outdoor water below cost to overtax the water works and declare it inadequate.
It used to be DIRT CHEAP to water your lawn in Greensboro, but immediately after the Randleman Dam was approved Greensboro solved its artificial “water shortage” by doubling the rate for lawn water.
The City could have done that back in 1995 and spared itself from investing in an unnecessary Randleman Dam and reservoir, but certain leaders were convinced that Randleman water would help Greensboro grow bigger. Greensboro has always been about growth in case you have not noticed. REASON NUMBER TWO: Second, most residents have now been switched from quarterly billing (every 3 months) to monthly billing. That means when they water their lawns they will receive a huge bill EARLIER than in the past. They will learn SOONER to not do that again.
Under quarterly billing people ran their sprinklers for 3 full months before receiving a gigantic bill. So, monthly billing will cause people to operate their irrigation systems less frequently.
Water use declining... What this all means is that Greensboro’s water use in 2009 is likely to go down again. That’s because the biggest threat to the reservoirs—lawn watering—is being nicely brought under control by stiff rate hikes.
Remember, this simple solution was implemented AFTER the dam was approved. It could have been enacted long ago…but Greensboro would have lost its argument for the Randleman Dam. Irrigation systems represent giant holes in the distribution system. When everybody is lawn watering it drains the system and then it drains the reservoirs. Too many “openings” at one time and the system goes down.
Let me illustrate. Suppose you are blowing up a balloon with a few pinholes in it. You can puff away and stay ahead of the few air leaks. More air is going in than escaping. Now add a few more pin holes. You'll work harder to stay ahead. Eventually after adding more pinholes you just cannot keep the balloon inflated.
We call that a system failure and Greensboro experienced one in 1994. A section of Friendly Ave. was allowed to run dry and businesses had to close. That one failure focused everyone's attention on the Randleman Dam. Utility Director Ray Shaw allowed the system to go down to make a point. He knew such bad news would help get the dam. If a fire broke out on Friendly Ave. it could not have been fought, but Shaw took that chance because all of his career he wanted to build the Randleman Dam. Now you know.
That's how Shaw manipulated the water works. His policies employed incentives that encouraged lawn watering in order to tax the distribution system and the reservoirs. Very few managers knew what he was up to back then. Shaw's scheme worked perfectly. He knew that to get something new approved you must demonstrate that your current system is inadequate. Can I get a witness? Is anybody following this? IT IS SO SIMPLE a caveman can figure it out! Do you believe Greensboro scuttled its reservoirs and its distribution system? Start believing because it is true!
Another 6% January 1st
Next January rates will increase an additional 6% and maybe more. Outdoor water meter rate may go even higher. And again, water DEMAND will DECREASE because the COST for a plush lawn will INCREASE. Greensboro is secretly expanding its own reservoirs by making it expensive to water your lawn…but it cannot tell you its reservoirs are getting larger….or tell you that water use is declining…..because then you might question the need for Randleman Dam. You should. That’s why they call it the WATER WORKS. It works whichever way it wants because it is a monopoly. It will always “work” even when you don’t and cannot afford its rates. The water department will always expand even when water use is declining. Only the private sector downsizes when DEMAND diminishes. Government EXPANDS even when DEMAND diminishes. BEWARE OF SPIN...
Every announcement from the Greensboro water department has spin on it! It's been this way for 15 years now. The City has to conceal the facts and keep its citizens on board with the Randleman Dam. This is the largest scam in the history of Greensboro and it continues because the last chapter is still not written on the dam projects in Randleman.
Posted by Mike J Baron at 7:36 PM