Why Does Sewer Cost More?

“‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“‘The sword of the king of Babylon
    will come against you.
I will cause your hordes to fall
    by the swords of mighty men—
    the most ruthless of all nations.
They will shatter the pride of Egypt,
    and all her hordes will be overthrown.
I will destroy all her cattle
    from beside abundant waters
no longer to be stirred by the foot of man
    or muddied by the hooves of cattle.
Then I will let her waters settle
    and make her streams flow like oil,
declares the Sovereign Lord.
When I make Egypt desolate
    and strip the land of everything in it,
when I strike down all who live there,
    then they will know that I am the Lord.’

  • Ezekiel 32:11-15

“‘As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats.  Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture?  Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water?  Must you also muddy the rest with your feet?  Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?

  • Ezekiel 34:17-19

The two Scriptures deal with muddy water.  One a prophecy about Egypt, the other a prophecy about Israel.  If water treatment or sewage treatment only had to deal with mud, it would be a lot easier and a lot cheaper.

I could go into the design and operation of both potable water treatment and sewage treatment in the modern world and some might think of how sewage treatment has a lot more work to do, when much of our potable water comes from relatively clean sources, but the average person is not really interested.  To be honest, both are automated systems and once the initial equipment is paid for, the operating costs could be comparable.

No, I am asking the question from the standpoint of the consumer.  Why?  Why 15-20% more for sewer?

Now for those folks in the South of the USA that hardly pay anything for these utilities, you may be scratching your heads.  When we left Mississippi in 1994, we were paying one bill, about $20 per month that covered water, sewer, and trash collection.  One bill.  One office to set things up.  After all, it was the utilities and services for the home.  Electrical was a separate bill, but that made sense, since you know that you do not want to stand in a puddle of water when working on electrical, whether it is clean or not-so-clean water.  Those just don’t mix.

Then we went to Washington state, to the high desert.  We went to the county utility office and set up water and sewer.  I asked about trash collection and they laughed at us.  Who ever thought trash and water should mix?!?!  So, we were introduced to two bills instead of one, but the total of the two bills was just a little higher.  We figured that it’s the desert.

In the summer, we might have to pay another five dollars due to the requirement to water the lawn.  In our little community on a hill above the Yakima River, we only had potable water, but in the next town over, they had two water lines to each neighborhood.  They had potable water for the house and untreated river water for the lawn, at a drastically reduced price.  The concept of desert applied.  On the east side of the gorgeous Cascade mountains, you will find high desert.  A lot of the desert is reclaimed due to irrigation and there are wineries everywhere along the rivers, along with apple orchards and cherry orchards.  Some areas grow hops, asparagus, and canola, along with other vegetables.  But the areas that do not have irrigation are covered in sagebrush, beautiful in the Spring.  Brush fires are common in the summer, and the watering of lawns acts as a fire break.  Green, wet lawn grass is harder to burn than sagebrush and tumbleweeds.  And the city fathers were serious about it.  We had a tree block a one-square foot portion of lawn and the grass turned brown in that tiny space.  We got a warning to fix the problem within a month, or we would be fined.  We dug up the grass, leaving a tiny “rock garden.”

Then we moved to Pennsylvania.  Instead of an all-electric home, we had both gas and electricity.  And when it came to the other utilities, we had three bills: water, sewer, and trash.  Each of the bills was three times what the combined bills had been in Washington.  More than 6-8 times what we paid for the same service in Mississippi.  And in Mississippi, we never had our trash can left in the middle of the street to be run over by a half dozen motorists before I got off work to have an unpaid job of picking up plastic trash (the pieces of the trash can) scattered over a couple of city blocks.  (Yet, I have stopped the car to reposition a neighbor’s trash can back onto the sidewalk.)  There was no excuse, at least a reasonable excuse, for the bills being that high.  Then again, the toll road leading into Pennsylvania seems to scream to all visitors, “We love your money, but we do not want you here!”  An hour’s wages, minimum wage, just to enter the state?

By moving back to the South, we could easily save $100 each month without changing our lifestyle.

But I have gone through that to illustrate that we get a sewer bill and a water bill, both based upon the same volume of water being consumed and the sewer bill is much higher.

And as a consumer, I must ask, “Why is the sewer bill about 15-20% higher than the water bill?  I do not drink the sewer water!  Does the sewer water have to be that clean?”  (Yes, in a way, it does, but it does not have to taste good or allow the soapy water to form suds.  Those attributes require chemical adjustment, an added step for the water company that the sewer people do not have to worry about.)

I fear even asking the question.  The two utility authorities will get together, and our water bill will artificially become 30% higher so that the water company makes an obscene profit along with the sewer authority.  No one would ever consider lowering the sewer bill.

I could end this right now, and I have considered not publishing this question, in fear of the aforementioned response.

But God loves us regardless of how long a shower we take, how many times we flush the toilet, or whether we water our lawn or not (which we do not since we no longer live in a desert).

Greed is a big problem with folks, from early in human history until today.  The Bible warns us against being greedy.  We should have no other gods before us other than the one true God.  Yet, we worship money.  I do not worship money.  It is usually all gone before I can get around to doing that.

And God knows our needs.  And God keeps His promises to love us and care for us, even caring enough so that we can pay the sewer bill.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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