How Does Naming Names Promote Conservation?

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Editor:

Your recent story, naming residents with high water use, implicitly suggests they waste water, yet admits that no laws were broken. The assumption of waste failed to present evidence showing abuse. It remains unclear how naming names promotes conservation.

Before finding fault with how people use their purchased water, your story could have defined "waste" or "conservation" and used an objective measure to determine who is truly "wasting" water.

Instead, readers were left to the subjective "perspective" of the publisher. The gist of that view appears to be that it is not particularly wasteful for car washes in Payson to use millions of gallons of water each year, just to keep trucks and cars of locals (and travelers from elsewhere), looking good. The excuse presented was that such use is unavoidable because it is the "nature of the business." But, if a resident uses water to keep trees and shrubs from dying during a drought, and can pay for it, that person is condemned for wasting a previous resource. I respectfully disagree with the perspective.

In its rush to disparage the "top 10" in the court of public opinion, the story ignores the fact that "tiered" water rates are designed to work for a wide range of use between customers, to benefit of those who use the least water, and to discourage excessive use. The apparent small percentage of high users suggests those rates are effective. And, without the subsidy of high users paying an increased average rate, the majority of us would have to cover system costs by paying higher rates. Setting rates for utility services is a bit more complex than the determining the best price of other products and services.

Finally, everyone agrees conservation of natural resources is a good idea, but mere labeling any reduction of use as "conservation" is not always accurate. If thousands of water users will avoid taking long hot showers (which use more than one natural resource), fix leaks, and turn water off while brushing their teeth, far more conservation will be realized than from public ridicule of a handful of residents who choose to use and pay for higher than average volumes, for legitimate purposes.

Bill Claerhout, Payson

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