The True Cost of Water

Source EPA WaterSense

It’s a story more complicated than it first appears. A drought looms. A community conserves. And then, even though less water is being used, the cost of water rises.

This is the situation facing Atlanta’s northern and western suburbs, where regional water wholesaler Cobb County-Marietta Water Authority is increasing rates by about 50 cents per thousand gallons this October. Atlanta communities had cut back water use significantly in response to a record drought in the region that started in 2007.

So what gives?

Beneath the surface, this issue is more complicated than it first appears. These Atlanta suburbs, like most communities in America, had not been paying the true cost of water.

In general, the price of water in the United States has little to do with supply and demand. Municipalities and regulators typically set rates as low as possible, so much so that 30 percent of all water utilities operate at a loss or a deficit. Often water rates will increase for a multitude of reasons.

Consider this: the American drinking water infrastructure network spans more than 700,000 miles—more than four times longer than the National Highway System—and in many municipalities, these pipes are more than 100 years old. An EPA study estimates that updating aging water infrastructure could cost nearly $500 billion over the next two decades.

Inevitably, water rates will go up in order to pay for the replacement of old infrastructure, new water treatment technologies for better water quality, and new water infrastructure to support increasing populations. Water efficiency can in fact help utilities save money over the long run by delaying costly capital expansions. And many homeowners may find that through water efficiency, even if they pay more per drop of water, they will still be paying less overall on their water bills than they would have before.

What’s more, Atlanta communities were asked to take drastic, necessary measures to reduce water use well beyond water efficiency or conservation. “What is painting efficiency in a bad light in the Southeast is the failure to recognize the difference between emergency response and efficiency. The extreme watering restrictions and mandated reductions we’ve experienced in Atlanta are emergency drought management tactics and they have devastating financial ramification just like any natural disaster such as hurricanes or tornados,” said Kathy Nguyen, water-efficiency program manager for Cobb County Water System, the Authority’s largest customer. “Efficiency is not about hardship, sacrifice, and mandates and it does not destroy a water system’s fiscal plan.”

Finally, tap water is, on the whole, inexpensive. Bottled water costs from 100 times to more than 2,000 times more than tap water. In the Atlanta metro area, the Cobb County rate increase will equate to about $3.25 more for water per month for the average family. In the long run, however, it’s still better to protect water supplies and systems for future generations.

What is WaterSense?

WaterSense, a partnership program sponsored by EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water.


New Atlanta Distribution Center for Caroma High Efficiency Toilets

ecoTransitions Inc., a Watersense Partner, has partnered with Caroma USA to distribute WaterSense labeled high-efficiency toilets (HET) in Georgia.February 2008 – ecoTransitions encourages Georgians to actively conserve water and decrease their monthly water bills by offering high efficiency Dual Flush toilets. From its newly opened Distribution Center, ecoTransitions broadens the selection of water conserving toilets available in Atlanta.  “In a time of a dwindling water supply in Georgia, it is time to look at the No. 1 water-wasting feature in every house”, said ecoTransisions owner and Georgia resident Andrea Paulinelli. “Toilets are still the biggest water users in our homes. When we think about conserving water and long term savings, retrofitting our toilets is the single best solution.” Most of ecoTransitions Caroma High Efficiency Toilets (HET) are listed on EPA’s Watersense list and qualify for the rebates currently offered by many counties and the City of Atlanta. Because water use reduction is an integral part of LEED™, credits can be obtained as well. Caroma toilets employ an integrated dual flush mechanism, letting the user select either a full flush (1.6gpf) or a half flush (0.8gpf). The patented technology can save up to 72% (approx. 18,000 gallons) of annual water usage compared to the traditional 3.5-gallon flush and up to 40% (approx. 4600 gallons) compared to today’s standard 1.6-gallon single flush toilets. A sophisticated redesigned bowl and a larger 4 inch trap allow waste to easily be pushed down with less water. The larger trap way eliminates clogs caused by excessive paper waste in the bowl. Other key strengths include: Elegant Design – Contemporary European design fits with just about any bathroom décor. Well-rounded corners and an easy closing seat provide easy cleaning. Installer-friendly – most Caroma US toilets can be roughed in at 10″ to 12″ with the use of a plastic offset connector. A larger footprint makes for easier replacement of old toilets. Virtually Maintenance Free – Dual Flush Technology eliminates the need for flapper, ball cock, chain and handle failure issues. Complete Fixture Range – The current US line includes a mix of toilets and lavatories for residential and commercial applications. ecoTransitions Inc.

 you chose between half flush and full flush

Visit www.ecotransitions.com or email Sales@ecotransitions.com for more info, Contact: Andrea Paulinelli, ceo