Editorial: Get used to high water costs

The drum beat of warnings last summer was as loud as it was dire: Conserve water or face shortages and even higher rates.

And so we cut back, so much that utilities in Burbank and Glendale started to feel the pinch. Now, rates are either already rising or proposed to be in both cities, even as officials laud the public's ability to conserve.

Utilities are in the unenviable position of encouraging their customers to use less of what they sell. Since less electricity and water being used means less revenue coming in, this often leads to the frustrating position of having to raise rates.

And so it's quite understandable for ratepayers to throw their hands up in frustration and think, "If I'm going to pay higher rates no matter what, I might as well use more water and have more lush landscaping to show for it."

But let's assume everyone let their sprinklers roar. So everyone's yards might be a little greener, but then the water supply would be further depleted, forcing allocations to be reduced and wholesale rates to skyrocket. Mandatory rationing might be imposed, and so then all the greenery goes back to brown. Now we're left with higher rates and less water.

Meanwhile, because the utilities can't afford to keep up with the cost of maintenance, their bond ratings are lowered, which means the cost of borrowing gets higher.

We no longer live in a world where we can expect to keep using resources with regard for the consequences. Some winters might be slightly wetter than others, but they do nothing to make up for the years of drought and unchanged irrigation habits.

It's time to accept the inevitable: Resources are scarcer, and the costs to deliver them while meeting stricter environmental mandates aren't cheap. This is a cost, and fact, of life.

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