California drought pits farmers vs. cities. But neither is the biggest water victim
For a year, my wife and I lived on an old ranch in an arid Colorado valley. Our daily routine is to plow fields with our Ford F-250. As the wind blows dry, we move our cattle. We never turn on the water. When spring comes, we can’t plow. The cattle suffer. The drought kills our land.
But my wife is a city-dweller. She is used to city water and city-sourced energy. I’m not.
My wife, who works for a nonprofit, has a small water bill in Denver. I’m paying $250 a month for water I should be drinking, my own body, if I’m lucky. I feel I’ve got to make a difference, and so have she.
Our water bills are the biggest drain on our household budget. We’re both on fixed incomes, and we save for the rainy day. That day never comes.
Water accounts for more of our monthly budget than food. It’s a luxury we can’t afford.
Here’s how our water spending works out on a monthly basis: For every $50 worth of groceries, I spend $100 on bottled water. For every dish of pasta, I spend $200 on bottled water. For every gallon of milk, I spend $300 on water.
That means even though we used to spend $250 on water for a year, we’ll probably spend about $1,000 this summer. I’m paying too much, but I refuse to cut anything that doesn’t serve a purpose.
It doesn’t take an expert on water to figure out why my water bills are so high. In an urban area, the cost of water is usually a relatively constant percentage of the cost of goods and services. Water supply prices are set by the State as a fraction of the cost to build a new water supply. It would take a lot of water to build a new reservoir in Boulder County, and a lot of money to build a new water plant