Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Water Bills, Part II

I am still trying to wrap my head around water bills in big cities.

Approximately 2/3 of the cost is due to wastewater treatment (which includes storm water).  The biggest cost in wastewater treatment is probably infrastructure.

The EPA predicts that about 300 billion dollars will be required over the next twenty-five year for infrastructure.  If you figure that $300B is evenly divided by the 325M US citizens then that comes down to $1000 per person over the next 25 years or about $40 a person per year or a tiny bit over three dollars a month.

Sizing considerations
Wastewater planners always round up.

Philly is listed as having 1.5 million residents.  They would round up to 2.0 million.

Wastewater planners figure on each person producing 100 gallons of wastewater a day.  The actual number is probably closer to 40 but wastewater planners always round up.

Minimum detention times are 24 hours for the settling/anaerobic ponds and somewhat less than that for the aerobic "activated sludge" ponds.

In 24 hours, 2.0 million people will generate about 25 million cubic feet of wastewater.  Quite by coincidence, that is exactly one quarter of the capacity of the Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Philadelphia Eagles professional football team.

A typical wastewater treatment plant would have two, fully parallel systems so one can be completely shut down for cleaning.  Each system must be able to handle the complete load for several weeks.

Considering the minimum detention times, that means the plant must have the "pond" capacity of four (two settling, two activated sludge), 15 acre, 40 feet deep ponds.  Or, exactly as much capacity (volume) as the Lincoln Financial Field.

Lincoln Financial Field cost $500 million to build or roughly $320 for each resident of Philly...quite a bit less than the $1000/person estimated by the EPA.

Lincoln Field does not have as many pumps as a sewage treatment plant but it has way more parking space and the amenities are much nicer than your average activated sludge tank.  I would guess the cost should be about a wash.

I guess it is a matter of priorities.  Clean water or box seats for the swanks and swells.

Regarding Stormwater
I am willing to bet money that the stormwater detention basins you see attached to every parking lot will soon be seen as public health hazards.

The EPA considers storing more than four tires outside a felony due to the health hazards of mosquitoes.  That is the same EPA that is MANDATING festering swamps next to every parking lot.

Just shaking my head.


  1. It's a con game, as usual... And the 'payoff' is the union salaries... sigh

    1. Even more likely is the underfunded pensions. As of July 2014, the Philadelphia Municipal Pension was 46% funded. These are benefits already promised. Laying off people will not change those obligations. A rising stock market is already baked into the cake and will not fix the issue. The only fix is more revenue. A LOT more revenue. That means rising rates.

      The rates go up. People use less water. The rates to up even more.

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