Thursday, October 9, 2014

Water, Me Worry?

Now, I well know, especially since moving away, that Port Angeles is wildly out of touch with the real world, the modern world. But even I was astonished to see this in the online PDN today:

A greener summer next year? Port Angeles adjusts its water rates to be more lawn-loving

The City Council has approved a seasonal water consumption rate for residential customers in 2015 to encourage more residents to water their lawns and gardens in the summer.

The council on Tuesday voted incorporate a flat summertime consumption rate into an ordinance establishing next year's electric, water, and wastewater rates. The council then voted adopt the ordinance itself...

In addition to water rates, the ordinance sets higher rates for electricity and wastewater. Under the seasonal structure, residential water customers next year will pay $2 per 100 cubic feet of water used in June, July and August regardless of consumption.

Out of stock, out of touch...What's the difference?

Now, as astute readers of this blog well know, much of the world is finally waking up to the fact that water is not only a valuable resource, but also a finite one. In the U.S. alone, dozens of municipalities, and even whole states, have passed laws to try and limit people's water use, to try and put the brakes on consumption. Rivers need water, farmers need water, people need water - and something has to give, something has to change.

Except in the unreality that is Port Angeles.

Given the well known penchant for Port Angeles City Councils to do a great deal of nothing, why was this particular thing not only important enough to discuss, but also to actually pass?

"What I've heard from seniors and people who have been in their homes a long time, people would like to water their landscape, their lawns, their gardens, but they feel financially their water bills are too high so they're reluctant to do so," said Councilwoman Cherie Kidd.

A solution all of Clallam County could embrace?

So there you have it. The only real problem facing the people of Port Angeles is that their lawns aren't green enough! Once that problem is licked, happy days must surely lie ahead. Downtown will flourish, high school graduation rates will rise, and sidewalks will build and repair themselves. Residents of Port Angeles will awaken each morning full of purpose (not booze or meth), and the pollutants coming from the Nippon plant will smell as sweet at flowers. Yes, people of Port Angeles, Cherie Kidd has confirmed it: The grass is greener on the other side. And the green grass will take you to the other side - at least the kind that Cherie seems to have been smoking will.

Meanwhile, back in that ol' real world...

Here are the highlights of the other rate increases:

■   Monthly residential electric rates will increase from $104.39 to $113.52 for average customers next year, an 8.75 percent increase.

■   Average monthly commercial electric rates will increase from $226 to $231.34, a 2.36 percent increase.

■   Monthly residential wastewater rates will increase from $46.70 to $51.35 for average customers in 2015, a 9.96 percent increase.

■   Average monthly commercial wastewater rates will increase from $42.02 to $47.84, a 13.85 percent increase.

How about a nice, big, cheap cup of water to wash those
other rate increases down with?


  1. Classic! Typical Port Angeles, and then some. Like we need to encourage or facilitate people wasting even MORE resources, right? Just so Cherie Kidd won't be distraught when she sees some brown lawns? When she's one of the people who have absolutely been responsible for it being so expensive to live here? Classic!

    1. Seems to me that Cherie might well be watering her lawn with lots of Crocodile Tears.

    2. If the quote from the PDN is anywhere near accurate, it's yet another painfully out-of-touch statement by Cherie Kidd. It's like encouraging people to make sure they shop for a car that gets really shitty gas mileage. What year is she living in? What planet is she living on?

      Oh, that's right. Planet Port Angeles, aka the Bizarro World.

    3. ...Because, Cherie...If people can't afford to spend more money on water, maybe, just maybe, it's because their overall utility bill load is too high. And that's your doing.

  2. I resent having to pay extra for all other utilities so that folks can have un-naturally green (in a desert) people landscape with rock and native plants, as I do.

    1. Yes. It sure seems to me that, if the city is suddenly SO concerned with the aesthetics of people's yards, then why not start a contest or program centering on "Best Yard to Use Native Plants in Landscaping" or "This Month's Most Water-Wise Yard," something like that?

      What the city actually is doing is illogical and, no surprise, totally short-sighted. It only helps people maintain bad habits. It's no different than telling a meth head they need to use MORE meth. Problems are sure to follow.

  3. Ever since Max moved away, Sissi Bruch has been the local Great Green Hope for those on the left here. Please do note, however, that she voted for this really stupid idea.

    I know, I know...

  4. This is supposed to be progress? This is supposed to be help?

    The city bleeds its own customers dry with utility rates - all manner of utility rates - all year long, but we're supposed to feel better because for three months out of the year we can now (in theory) afford to waste water?

    Never mind the foolishness of actually encouraging people to needlessly use more water, but as a financial helper, this idea is also a total dud. It's like getting a coupon for $1.00 off the purchase of a new car. No real help at all in the overall scheme of things.

    And it really does seem to be a scheme.

  5. Gee, maybe the WAR (Wa Assoc of Realtors) can get Port Angeles to build a pipe over to the Dungeness Valley, and give away water over there. Probably makes more sense than the silly lawsuit those idiots are trying to get going over the attempts to CONSERVE WATER , there.

  6. Agh!!

    Just when you think there's no way for this city to get even more stupid...

  7. Unless the city adopted correspondingly lower sewer rates during the summer months, homeowners who believe that will be "saving money" when irrigating their lawns will be rudely awakened when their utility bills come.
    Waste-water (sewer) fees are billed according to a home's metered water use. The city will recoup revenue losses from the flat rate water scheme by taking in more money for the waste-water utility.
    There are so many reasons why this "flat rate for summer use" water rate makes little sense. Among them: encouraging fluoridated and chemically treated drinking water to be used for outdoor plants. What a wasteful use of "good chemicals"!!!

    1. I'd imagine that all that fluoride is really good for aquatic life, too - say, the local crabs? Hard to believe how many of those poor little things they manage to push during Crab Fest, considering they're raised on our sewage runoff and fluoride. Personally, I wouldn't eat any lco0al seafood even if you paid me. No thanks!

  8. This was originally proposed by Dan Gase, a realtor. I suppose brown lawns make it harder to sell houses and get those sweet commissions. Lee Whetham is also quoted as a big supporter. I'm not sure how he stands to gain from it, but he is a plumber...

    The description by the council is deceptive. To most people a flat rate means "a single fixed fee for a service, regardless of usage." This plan is not a flat rate, it simply removes multiple tiers for higher usage rates. You will still pay more if you use more water, just a little less than you would otherwise since the rates are only about 30 cents difference per 100 cf between summer and the rest of the year.

    There is also no change to the sewer fee structure. Use more than 430 cf of water on your lawn and you still get dinged another $6/mo for your alleged greater impact on the sewer system even though none of it is going down the drain.

    My utility bills are my largest monthly expense after my mortgage. Many people in the city already have trouble paying their bills. People are not going to suddenly start using more water because it's slightly cheaper. Most everyone is trying to conserve as much as possible to keep their bills down.

    The whole idea is so completely backwards that I still can't believe it was proposed and then passed by such a majority. Now I fully expect them to revisit the idea of charging extra for recycling pickup that was proposed a while ago.

    This is also apparently the only work that was done in the "work session" to review the rate increases. As far as I can tell the proposed 9% increase came out of that meeting unchanged. Keep in mind the plan is to continue increasing rates by that amount each year for the next five years. I wonder how many people will still live in PA by the then?

  9. Saw this fascinating article today about how Leavenworth took a huge leap of faith when their town was dying and they had to figure out what to do. At the beginning of the article it mentions how often these things aren't successful because of how much people fear change. Sound familiar?

    1. You may have hit on it. A leap of faith requires you to have faith, and it seems clear that no one has any faith at all in Port Angeles.

    2. That is an interesting article. What gives me hope is the initial push evolved somewhat sporadically over the course of 16 years (1960-1976) and happened with business owners instead of the city council.
      I cannot imagine our city governments agreeing enough on anything to push the city forward like this.
      I've long thought it would be great to take advantage of our national parks and logging heritage and come up with a "theme town" along those lines, with considerable presence from the local tribes.
      Of course the downside of this is it becomes extremely expensive for average workers and longtime residents. To be honest, I probably wouldn't be able to live here if we do run with a theme.
      Doesn't seem like we have to worry about that anytime soon. The zip line would have been a great start to adventure tourism, but that fell through. A low-impact gondola to the park rather than a line of cars has been talked about, but never seriously. The "Timber Town" has been in development for years, assuming it's still being worked on, I haven't heard about it lately. The Discovery Trail is something we can be proud of, and something I've seen in out-of-area articles, but it's stuck at several points.
      PA may pull through, but there's a lot to overcome... If it wants this at all.

    3. When you think about all the resources that are here (mountains, National Park, waterfront, ferries to Canada, camping, etc.), and just how long they've all been here, without anyone being able to capitalize on any of them, or on the hundreds of thousands of people who come through here every year headed somewhere else...It seems extremely unlikely that at this point anyone will ever be able or willing to capitalize on any of them, in any meaningful or significant way. Port Angeles and Clallam County will just continue on their course of slow and steady disintegration, with the only goal seemingly to become even more of a backwards, out of time ghost town than places like Aberdeen.

      No vision, no hope, no future. But gee, look at all them green lawns.


    Late summer, early fall is when the river is at its lowest. The snows have melted, the rains haven't really come yet, and water is at a premium.

    That's the same time that the salmon, whom we have so recently welcomed back to the river, are returning to swim upstream and spawn.

    Given all that, between what the city takes, and what Nippon takes, each and every day, we're already putting a strain on the river - and the salmon - during this time period.

    Now, the geniuses at the city are hoping to put EVEN MORE of a strain on the river- and the salmon - going forward.

    Which is to say, going backwards, like almost everything else in Port Angeles.

  11. Too bad they're spending their "work time" on such stupid ideas...Surely there's something better we could suggest. I would like to see our town becoming attractive as a place to locate small businesses that provide living wages, more than becoming a theme park. A Council that can do better than mindlessly raise utility rates and squander water would be a start in making this an attractive place to live.