To the editor:
I am writing about the Journal-World story on the proposed new water rates in Lawrence. The commissioners claim that the proposal represents a plan to promote conservation of water, certainly a laudable goal. If so, however, it is unlikely to work, but instead would be just a rate increase -- a regressive one at that -- for homeowners with larger lawns and gardens.
Under the proposed scheme, water conservation simply means watering less. Does the commission really want to see brown lawns all over Lawrence? What would this scenario do to property values? What about the investments that many Lawrence residents have made in their property and the appearance of their neighborhoods?
It appears that the real point is simply to raise more money under the guise of "conservation," targeting a particular group of customers. If that is not the case, one would expect to see the water department offering ways to help conserve water by retaining consultants to provide viable alternatives to conventional lawns and gardens. Even better, how about using new funds gained from rate changes for a grant program to help homeowners convert lawns to other uses? This would promote real conservation, and help prepare Lawrence for a future when water may not be so plentiful.
Without such measures, the proposed rate changes appear to be just a poorly disguised ploy to raise additional revenue from homeowners who, in all likelihood, already pay more in taxes because of the value of their properties.