Leadership. I've been hearing that word a lot lately. Which is fitting because we have an election right around the corner. Leadership does matter when we pick our leaders. So, I wanted to take a look at one of the biggest issues- Water Conservation- and see how the candidates (and current councilmembers) are doing on water conservation. Are they just telling us to use less water or are they leading by example? I requested the water use data from all of the current councilmembers and candidates for the last 2 yrs. Candidates were under no requirement to release that information, but EVERY ONE of THEM did. Kudos to the candidates. I used the water use data to compare water conservation efforts from candidates and current councilmembers.
First, a word about the data. Everybody is not on the same billing cycle. Some people get their bills in Jan/Mar/May/July/Sept/Nov and others get them in Feb/April/June/August/Oct/Dec. For purposes of comparing data, I aligned Jan bills with Feb bills, and Mar bills with April bills, etc. Also note that the data is for the billing date. The billing date will indicate the water use in the 2 previous months. For example, a March billing date will indicate how much water was used in the previous January and February.
There were also 2 instances where the customer had more than one reading in a billing cycle (probably indicating a new meter was installed) and one huge anomaly (probably indicating a water pipe break). Dave Grosch had 2 meter readings for Jan, 2010. I added the readings together. I did the same for Carl Kruse who had 2 readings in Jun/July 2009. Betty Rexford, who has the lowest water use among the group had a 129 unit reading in Aug 2009. No other reading was more than 11 units, so I substituted 11 units for the August 2009 reading.
First, I wanted to compare the total water use during the period from Feb/Mar 2008 until Mar/April 2010.
Here are the results (click on each graph to make it larger):
The biggest water consumers during this period were Steve Vaus, Jim Cunningham and Don Higginson. Which is kind of interesting. Because they all live in the same neighborhood. I'm not saying they would vote the same way on everything. But how weird would it be to have the council majority be 3 people who live about a block from each other and are big water users to boot? Would we all feel represented under such a scenario?
The next biggest water user is Grosch (who used less than half the water Vaus used), followed by Boyack, Mullin, Collins and Babich. At the bottom of the pack were Kruse, Cross, Willoughby, and Radcliff, all of whom live on smaller acreage than the other councilmembers and candidates. The smallest water user is Rexford, who, I believe, has a well.
Because some of the councilmembers and candidates live on larger parcels than others, I decided to compare winter water use. During the 2010 winter, folks should have been able to turn off their outside irrigation for an entire 2 month period. Especially if they were leading by example. Ahem....
The following graph shows the number of units billed in Feb. or Mar for each of the last 3 winters, 2008, 2009, and 2010. The data from 2010 is in yellow.
The largest winter water user, by far, is Steve Vaus. His total use during Dec/Jan for the last 3 years is almost 300 units. And he used 65% more water during this period in 2010 than he did during this period in 2009. Jim Cunningham is the next largest wintertime water user; he used just a little over half of what Vaus used. With the exception of Vaus, almost everyone cut their wintertime use in 2010 or kept it pretty close to what they used in 2009.
With the city promoting turning off irrigation this winter, I would have expected to see the 2010 data (in yellow) be fairly close for everyone, despite their lot size. But it isn't. Boyack's use is the lowest- just 3 units. Collins is next lowest at 4, followed by Willoughby, Rexford and Grosch, who are all in single digit use. Way to lead by example!
Mullin, Kruse, Radcliff and Cross used under 15 units. Higginson clocked in at 19 (less than half what he used the previous winter), Babich came in at 20, followed by Cunningham at 33, and in the very last spot, Vaus with 91 units. 91 units is way out there!
The next thing I wanted to look at was whether the candidates and councilmembers had cut back their use since the previous year. So I compared the total number of water unit used during the last 12 months to the 12 months before that.
The following information is useful in comparing and analyzing the data:
Vaus, Higginson and Babich all have lots between 32,000-37,000 s.f.
Cunningham, Rexford and Mullin have lots in the 22,000- 27,00 s.f range.
Boyack's lot is about 14,500 s.f
Radcliff, Wiilloughby and Cross have lots between 6,600-7500 s.f.
The size of Grosch, Collins and Kruse's lot is unavailable on the Poway or Sandag's GIS site or zillow.
Grosch lives in Rancho Arbolitos in a lot zoned PC-2. Collins lives in North Poway on a lot zoned RS-2 and Kruse also lives in North Poway on a lot zoned RS-4.
Once again, some people have been conserving for years and their recent use might not show much improvement. But look at that graph! Everybody, except Radcliff, cut their water use in the past year. I'm going to give Radcliff a pass on this because his water use was, and still is, pretty low.
The graph shows that, in general, people who have larger lots use more water. No surprise there. But there is still a lot of spread between the larger water consumers. Vaus, Higginson and Babich have lots that are relatively close in size, yet Vaus uses way more water than Higginson and more than twice as much water as Babich. So, there is still lots of room for improvement and leadership. And probably pool covers.
Note: All of the candidates do not have the same philosophy when it comes to how the city should structure water rates and promote conservation. Please visit each candidate's website to learn more about their view on water conservation and water rates:
Roger Willoughby (could not find a website for Willoughby)