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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 3, 2009 12 years ago

Get ready for surge in water costs

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Efforts by water-management boards to mandate a 30% drop in water consumption will force utilities to raise rates on consumers and businesses by as much as 50%, a water expert warned recently.

Efforts by water-management boards to mandate a 30% drop in water consumption will force utilities to raise rates on consumers and businesses by as much as 50%, a water expert warned recently.

“Conservation sounds great, but it has huge implications,” says Tom Missimer, a Fort Myers-based water consultant with Schlumberger Water Services.

Utilities around the state have invested millions of dollars on water plants and they're paying for them using long-term bonds. If water management boards force conservation, the cost per gallon will increase 10% to 50% so utilities can pay for those capital and operating expenses.

As a result, economic development could suffer because growth depends on a plentiful supply of cheap water and power. “They could wreck South Florida if they continue on the path they're going,” Missimer warns.

Missimer says both the South Florida Water Management District and the Southwest Florida Water Management District are eager to push through water conservation measures despite the fact that many coastal areas are not experiencing severe drought conditions. “Extract the politics and put qualified water people on the boards,” he urges.

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