Saturday, July 02, 2005

City Gives New Yorkers a Reminder: Water Isn't Free :: NYT

I did not know this:

But many never pay for that high-quality tap water at home, and they get away with it because the city - which runs the water system-never cuts off anybody's water for nonpayment.


About 231,000 water customers in New York City are late paying their bills - some by just a few months, others by decades. In all, these water delinquents owe the city more than $625 million in overdue bills and penalties. Houses and apartments account for 90 percent of those unpaid bills, but the city just absorbs the huge losses and spreads the costs to those who do pay rather than risk the political consequences of being seen as hardhearted.

But the tap may finally run dry.
(Emphasis added by the fine editorial staff at Emirates Economist. )

I seem to recall the NYC was headed towards bankruptcy a few decades ago, and the US taxpayers bailed you out. I didn't know it was literally. It would seem you've been spreading the cost of water to those who don't even use it. Before you ask me to bail you out again, you'll need to be able to prove you've collected on those outstanding water bills.

I thought this degree of lassitude in public bill collection only happened in other parts of the world.

And another thing, I don't want to hear about people wasting water when they don't have to pay for it. It's your responsibility to give them the signal of water's value. No matter what you charge, if you never collect you are signaling that water has NO value. That's an interesting environmental position to take, one that should have political consequences if there are many environmentalists in NYC who really are serious about seeing water used wisely.


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