Conserving Water in San Diego

The new water bill is in and compared to the last billing cycle, we reduced our water usage by 33% – from 9 HCF to 6 HCF* bimonthly. Our average water consumption per day went from 112 gallons in the previous billing cycle to 72 gallons currently. That sounds great, right?

We achieved that by catching water from the shower before it gets hot, with a bucket. We also washed fruits and vegetables in a little tub in the sink, and kept that water as well. We used all that water for the yard then. Nice exercise hauling these 5 gallon buckets, and it feels good to really do something to conserve water.

If only that good feeling would translate to a financial incentive as well, but here’s the thing: our actual water bill is only ~6% (!) lower than the last one. Because the majority of the bill are actually sky-high base fees for water and sewer!

So two months of hauling buckets full of water and cutting the actual water consumption by 33% is worth $11 in savings. Eleven dollars, for all that effort. That’s just seriously messed up. What a fantastic reward and incentive for conserving water – not.


*) HCF stands for “hundred cubic feet” – a rather abstract measure if you ask me. It results in nice and small numbers that are easy to digest, or something. One HCF equals 748 gallons (2827 liters). I wonder what the psychological effect of the small HCF numbers is. If my water bill read that we used 6732 gallons or 25446 liters of water in two months, I’d probably be a little more concerned about conserving water.

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2 Comments

  1. It’s a tough problem. The base fees reflect the cost of maintaining the pipes, pumps, etc. That doesn’t change much with the amount of water actually used. Our provider, EBMUD, had to raise the rates because everyone did so well in reducing consumption. The same thing happened for our trash collection fees when people started recycling more and discarding less. The truck still comes once a week and the same number of people are on it…

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