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Stop adding taxes and fees for every pet project to the electric bill. Austin’s municipal power monopoly means new taxes and fees may be levied as an administrative action without input or approval by voters - essentially disenfranchising Austin’s citizens. This must stop! The city should either privatize Austin power (the best alternative), or pass an ordinance preventing non-power generation charges from being assessed. Most communities in Texas enjoy deregulated power at a much lower cost per Kwh than Austin (Dallas residents can enjoy 5 - 6 cents/Kwh vs. the 12 cents from my most recent CoAustin bill). If all these extra fees are a good idea, then they should be able to stand on their own merits.
Our drinking water comes from this lake. And even when in conservation mode, people with lakefront property continue to suck water out of the lake to keep their lawns green.
Using tax money to build affordable housing raises tax & cost on everyone else. Charging more per unit as electric & water use goes up is great for 2-income couples living in apartments & condos, but terrible for families raising kids and living in a house. The dual-income-no-kids DINKS can turn off heat & cooling while at work, and have no yard or landscaping to water, so they get water & electricity at below-cost. The middle class family struggles with high utility rates and taxes. The net result is a hollowing out of the middle class, leaving Austin with a growing gap between two groups - those poor enough to get city utility & housing subsidy, and those rich enough to afford paying for these things. Folks in the middle move to surrounding cities. The more we implement "progressive" policies, the worse this situation gets. Just look at AISD attendance which is plummeting as middle class families move away.
Before enforcing a once a week water restriction while water is available but limited- consider rescinding the existing coincidental law change that allows Texans the exclusive right to the access and sale of water from wells on private property. It would seem this should be addressed before limiting the use of water by individual property owners and renters. Only restricting the individual will suddenly provide greater pools and access in the commodity of water sale and remove any benefit given by the natural spread out water use that more significantly supports community health and replenished ecology... already limited by price. Yes- there will be more to sell if individuals in the community do not have the use of the water but at what overall expense (monetary and environmental)? If there is not enough water to support the community why are we allowing individuals to draw it by wells and even sell it outside the community? One restriction without the other in place seems self- destructive.
Austin Water needs to change it's business model from "conservation" back to "production efficiency". Our Drought Response Plan needs to be temporary with well defined entry and exit points. High rate tiers and conservation fees should be reduced accordingly to allow the utility to profitably produce more water while lowering Austinite's cost of living. The practice of transferring the utility's retained earnings to the City's General Fund and then using it to fund the City Council should end This hidden tax should be replaced by a City Sales Tax if necessary. Stop hiding tax hikes in the name of "Conservation".
Instead of trying to monitor complicated outdoor watering schedules, it would be easier for everybody it the water utility simply charged higher rates. Then all customers would learn to limit their water use themselves. We wouldn't need these complicated, ever-changing "schedules" and "water-shaming" nonsense.
There is no "right" to inexpensive, clean water. So we should not feel bad about charging more for it.
To avoid penalizing those who already use modest amounts of water, just impose a tiered monthly price for water use, and charge much higher rates for the higher usage tiers. For example:
< 3000 gallons per month (gpm) = $ X/gallon
3000 gpm and < 6000 gpm = $Y/gallon 6000 gpm = $Z/gallon
where Y is more expensive than X, and Z is MUCH more expensive than Y.
During droughts I often see large commercial properties being sprinkler-irrigated during the day, with much of the water hitting pavement and just running off. With higher rates, this would be too expensive to sustain and the businesses would be forced to fix it themselves.
The city is pushing to make the current stage 2 water restrictions permanent. This means that regardless of the water available, residents will be limited to 1 day per week outdoor water use. It will make it illegal to water your vegetable garden or wash your car.
This is not being done for conservation in response to drought conditions. This is not being done to conserve water for the future. It cannot & will not effect future water supplies. The intention is to limit residential access to the water stored in the highland lakes so that it can be sold at higher rates to agricultural & industrial interest and to other municipalities. Additionally, it will become an excuse to further raise rates for the limited amount of water that residents are allowed access to.
Please fill out the survey, sign up as an interested party, call your council representative. Those in power must not be allowed to steal the water that belongs to the people of Austin!
Thanks for this forum! My idea for water conservation came from having two teenage daughters. Knowing how long an average shower takes them, I would think that a huge amount of savings could come from a conservation marketing effort within our schools. Also, for the past four years my wife and I fill a 5 gallon bucket to collect water as the shower warms up. Otherwise it goes down the drain before it's warm. About every 3-4 showers I empty the bucket around our yard. A 5 gallon bucket is heavy so it's not for everyone, but something we have done during the drought. That and make the girls aware that they need to cut their shower time down. Note: The bucket process has a much higher success rate than the time speeches!
The water restriction survey should ask if people live in an apartment or home (whether they have landscaping), whether they own or rent, how many people are in the residence... It shouldn't ask their ethnicity though.