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The bitter taste of local politics....

Mornings like this make me really wonder about people in general and those sharing my little slice of the world in particular....

For instance from this morning's paper:

Story1: Study:Pollution endangers kids

*gasp* Oh No! Little Timmy is in danger! But wait. If you actually read the article you see that The report does not show a direct impact from the pollution on children's health. Eh?? So what's the point to the article? Well if we keep reading we learn that the coordinator of the study feels that ".. we're marking it clear that the extraordinary level of toxic pollution released in proximity to where children go to school shows a clear risk that cannot be refuted" Oh. I wasn't aware that we normally need to refute a risk (btw, exactly how much is an "extraordinary" level of toxic pollution? What is an "ordinary" level?) Almost everything that we do in our daily lives carries with it a risk. Normally, scientists try to prove that a "risk" correlates to actual danger. Until you have some actual results there is no way to determine if there is a 1:10, 1:100, or 1:1,000,000 chance of something happening. If a study can't prove that something bad is happening, then it's useless to say that there is a risk because we don't know how much of a risk there is. Until a real scientific study is performed, we can't know if the risk is marginal, or if it's so great that those evil refineries should be shut down immediately. The only thing that this "study" (and I use the term loosely) does is advance a political agenda and instill fear in people. Next thing you know, parents will be sending their kids to school with respirators even though no one has shown that anything bad has happened or that the risk of illness from the "extraordinary levels of toxic pollution" is any greater than the risk of getting skin cancer from walking to school. There is a "risk" that the Earth could be struck by a giant asteroid, but until we have some definite idea of just how much risk there is, worrying about it isn't really all that productive.

Another thing that comes to mind is that this study didn't even take into account the fact that El Paso is adjacent to a major city in another country with much looser (at times almost non-existent) environmental controls. Several of the schools listed in that report are about as close (sometimes even closer) to Mexico than they are to any refinery in the city. Did the people doing this "study" ever spend a winter morning in El Paso to see the haze that spreads into town from Juarez? Did they ever see people burning tires and anything else they could get their hands on in order to stay warm in December? All that anyone has to do is go to UTEP and look across the river to see where a good amount of pollution comes from. Clearly refineries and big industry to need to be held to high standards of responsibility, but scaring people about things that they can't really affect or about things that haven't even been proven is really quite despicable. Good way to sell papers guys.

Story 2: Raise Water Rates, City Council Says

Heh, why am I not surprised that our wonderful City Council would do something this boneheaded? Look guys, I want to keep taking daily showers and washing my clothes without having to take out a loan. If I can only water for 2 hours, I'll deal, when it comes to deciding between a shower and a lush green lawn, the shower wins. Considering how many options there are for recycling water and whatnot, I'm astonished at how stupid the City Council was. Look people, we live in a fucking desert. Live with it or move. I was a bit grumpy about only being able to water once a week for 2 hours, but now I'm downright disgusted with all the nimrods who came out of the woodwork squawking about their stupid lawns. It's fucking grass people, get over it most of you see it for all of 1 minute from the time you get out of your air-conditioned car and into your air-conditioned house to watch the newest reality TV show, Who Wants Survive Being Married to Joe Millionaire on an Island.

What's funny is that when I heard about the proposed water restrictions, I asked my dad about what options there were for recycling water and he told me of about half a dozen options that could help quite a bit. You can use water from your bath/shower, washing machine, and bathroom sinks. It takes some extra plumbing work, but it's not rocket science to do. Really the only water you can't safely re-use is from the toilets, dishwashers, and the kitchen sink. I would be willing to bet that if apartment complexes re-used the water from their on-site washing facilities etc... they could probably do a fine job of watering their lawns without sucking up millions of gallons of water.

Another really bizarre aspect to all this is that we aren't the only desert city out there. You have most of Arizona and large chunks of New Mexico and Nevada, where people are intelligent enough to understand that if you have 100 units of water and you need 30 units to do normal household activities, 35 units to drink and 80 units for watering your lawn, something has to give (30+35+80>100 => trouble). To be honest, I would be happy with a small lawn, green public parks, and plenty of water to drink. I think it's bordering on obscene how some people just don't appreciate that we don't have an infinite supply of resources.


There are some very cool things about living out here, but intelligent civic debate and discussions are not high up on that list. I can understand being unhappy about a drought situation, but I can't conceive of how anyone can be so utterly fucking stupid as to not be able to deal with it. We have grown-ups here whining because it's not "fair" that they won't be able to have 4 acres of lush green lawn around their palatial estates. I'd like to take those palaces and shove them up into some of their orifices.

Ok, I'm going to go do something productive now.


I wrote a letter to the Ed. about the water issue. Basically said how raising rates means those w/ large lawns (and plenty of money) won't mind spending more money, as were people like my folks have small lawn (under 200sqft) are already thinking of re-landscaping the yard b/c it's not worth the extra $$.

My dad and I thought about putting up an evactation pump in our a/c. It basically flushes out the pan once every 24hrs (to keep it clean). It uses less water than a bleeder line. Anyway, so take that water and hose it down into a drum or container and then use that to water the lawn.

This seems to be more about money as well. They want to cut usage...but because of the drop in revenue, they wanna raise the rates (not so much to keep ppl from using too much water). Sick huh?
I haven't heard anything about the money thing. AKAIK, the PSB is solely concerned with not having enough water to go around. The only thing they really use $$ for is to buy water rights and/or land with water rights.

A while ago, Socorro stopped allowing any new water and sewer connections (i.e. you couldn't get a new connection for a new house) because they were at capacity for what they could deal with.

Ultimately, if we don't get the water thing under control, the PSB might have to do something like that and prohibit any new connections etc... As it is, in today's paper they mentioned how EP won't be allowed to draw water from the Rio Grande for at least part of the summer so we have to stay within the capacity of the current systems. If we don't then it's possible that the water pressure in the system will drop and things like fire response (e.g. fire hydrants) will be seriously affected. In light of all that, I have a hard time understanding why people are sooooooo worked up about their damn grass and trees.

Personally, I think that the city council has shown just how utterly stupid they are with this move. I would be willing to bet that most people out there would rather keep their water rates low and forget about their lawns than getting shafted on rates just so that other folks can have nice lawns and such.

For instance, higher rates mean that places like the Thomason Hospital and the County Jail spend more on water (the jail in particular has zero landscaping) and then guess who picks up that tab?


they're talking a 65% increase..that's big time. They won't come out and say it, but if water consumption is down...their revenues go down...so it makes sense that they'd raise the rates to compensate.. sick bastards!

this would be great: big fat cat w/ huge lawn has a big house...house catches fire, but EPFD doesn't have the water pressure to extinguish the fire...charred remains of a palance w/ a nice green lawn LOL!
A 65% increase is big, but if you look at what they're trying to do it makes sense. It's just economics.

They figure that they need to get water consumption down by a huge amount, for sake of argument, let's say that right now (winter) most people have water bills in the range of $20.00 a month (not counting sewer and garbage that's about what mine is). Now they figure that in order to make people use less water they have to make it so expensive that most folks will be forced to turn off the sprinklers and unnecessary water use. They know that increasing rates 5% (a whole $1) would have small effect. 65% would mean an increase of $13.00 on my current bill. 65% on a normal $50 summertime bill would be $32.50 and that's a lot more likely to sting most folks. One of the guys interviewed recently said that it cost him $200-$400 a month to water his 7 acres of trees and stuff. If you do the math, most folks who can cut down on use will cut down on use if the rates go up. Ultimately raising rates is pretty much unfair to normal folks because they're the ones that will most likely be stung and who won't/can't afford an extra $20-$40 on their water bills every month. Believe it or not, they have a fairly decent idea of how use changes with relation to cost so the trick is to find the magic number that will make use = what they need it to.

The reason why watering restrcitions were so appealing to them (remember they FIRST proposed massive water restrictions instead of rate increases) is that 100% of the water used to water lawns, trees etc... is lost from the system[*]. So if you cut down on that, you end up with a situation where most of the water used is being put back into the system (i.e. it goes down the drain) and they can immediately clean it and recycle it back out. They can't do that with the water used for watering stuff and in a situation where you have severely limited resources, the first place you would want to cut out would be the one that is most wasteful.

Given a different group, I might think that they were trying to make-up their revenues with higher rates, but the PSB doesn't work that way. Municipal water companies are generally concerned with a) water quality and b) water supply. Aside from the overhead from their staffs, almost all of their revenues go directly to trying to maintain those two things as high as possible while charging their customers as little as possible. As a legal monopoly they can't actually try to gouge their customers. You'd be surprised how much water rights and water itself cost now adays. Last year there was an article that mentioned that the Rio Grande's water management board was increasing the cost of water from the river from $15.00 per some aount to over $200.00 for the same amount and that was entirely based on availability of water, not on trying to make a profit from it. About 10-15 years ago my dad sold the water rights on his land and got something like $200-$300 dollars per acre. Right now the PSB is paying around $3500 per acre for water rights because they need as many of those as they can get.

[*] - Technically water that goes into the ground eventually trickles into the underground water supply which the PSB does use, but they already have projections for how long it will last with "normal" rainful etc... slowly replenishing it and it's not very long (something in the order of 50-75 years at current rates of consumption I think). Not only that, but water that goes down that way has to be brought back out in wells (which cost $$$) as opposed to pretty much delivering itself to them through the sewer system (which is largely gravity fed so it is much more economical)


btw...you should write a letter to the EPTimes Ed mentioned that part about the hospital and county jail...very VERY good points there

also, it'd be nice if they kept folks on staff to shut off park sprinklers when it rains... seems that everytime it rains, the stupid sprinklers are going off here at Shawver hehe
The info about the jail and hospital was from the paper.

Better yet, they could just leave the sprinklers off this summer.
I'd rather be on

The Fear Factor of facing Real World with Joe Millionaire Trapped on Temptation Island with Big Brother.

We'll call it FFRWJMTIBB for short.

Hell, I could be a TV exec... Lets pitch an idiot idea to Fox or CBS and make a shit load of money..

Being a country girl- I starting thinking about Sim City and how my Sim's use to complain about having a lack of water. *snicker* Sorry, I know your not a resident of Sim City, and that must SUCK having to pay for water and have it governed.
Despite the allure of a shitload of money, I don't think I could live with myself if I was responable for inflicting yet another of those shows on the unsuspecting viewing public (even if they deserve it).

Paying for water is a fact of life in most cities. This also includes a nominal fee for sewage and the garbage collection. Personally, I like the way the system is setup, the only real problem is that we live in a desert. Normally, with the Rio Grande and the run off from the Rockies it's really not a big deal, but years of drought tend to lead to tough situations.

Still though it is nice not having to worry about hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, floods, or any of that other good stuff. El Paso has really really really nice weather, but since places like CO have been suffering from long term droughts it's really starting to affect us. If I remember correctly, technically El Paso isn't experiencing a drought, unfortunately we just don't have water ;).

The bizarre thing is that lawn watering is one of the few places where water loss is 100%. Everything else throws water back into the system so that it can get cleaned and recycled. This is why I don't understand people's fanatical devotion to having lush green lawns.
i've switched over to "green" detergents. they're about 2x the price of what i would normally use, but since that translates to about $10 every 5-6 months so i don't miss it on a graduate student budget.

as to why... i decided that i'd rather use things that weren't as harsh on my clothes. i've also been brainwashed by various environmental groups.