How Much Does Your Water Cost?

Posted On: August 6, 2012
By: ffdadmin

I spent a weekend away from the “office” (by which I mean San Francisco). I’m not a drinker, so instead of heading north to Sunny wine country, I headed south to Monterey. Which wasn’t sunny, but I did see the sun between my departure and destination points. While perusing the local paper in Monterey, I came across an article about an enormous water bill at the home of  the wife of the late, legendary San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh.

Bill Walsh (the older gentleman on the left)

Apparently, she lives in a home of about 1,800 square feet in the town of Pacific Grove and was rather disturbed to receive a water bill for one month with a total due of over $5,000. And while San Francisco and Monterey might not be that far apart, our water sources are a world apart. San Francisco dammed Hetch Hetchy and we have incredibly pure and great tasting water (but that’s another story for another post). The H2O in the Monterey area comes entirely from the skies, which accumulates in the Carmel river. Since they didn’t get to build a dam in a national park like we did, their supply:

  1. Doesn’t taste nearly as good. In fact, it tasted pretty awful.
  2. Is much more “scarce” and unreliable than our supply, so it is much more expensive.
  3. Will someday come from a major de-salination plant, scheduled to go online sometime in the later part of this decade.

The Someday De-Salination Plant for Monterey Bay. Source:

But anyway, back to the bill… My water bill comes quarterly, and if you live in SF I’m pretty sure yours does too. And while I roughly know what my water bill should be each quarter, I have no idea how much my water costs (I know, the shame, the shame). Which made me wonder how much my water cost… but also made me wonder if the SF PUC has any plans to install “smart” meters to help people understand their usage in real-time.

Both my gas and electricity meters are now “smart” and can provide real-time usage feedback. And it seems silly that my water meter isn’t capable of doing the same – after all, it seems like real-time information about water usage would be one of the easiest and smartest ways to make water conservation less theoretical and more practical. I’ve got an email into the SFPUC to see if smart water meters are in the works…

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