Going to the plant south of town, on my first trip for a water haul, I counted 18 vehicles, going for or having gotten, a load of effluent water.
My grandson and namesake, thrilled over his brand-new learner’s permit, took the wheel, while my wife, Bonnie, and I went along for the ride. Arthur’s father recently purchased a 275-gallon container, which surprisingly took only about a minute to fill. We saw pickups the size of ours, some with trailers, as well as huge tankers.
The water-distribution enterprise appears to have caught on, and one session of soaking our own used-to-be lawn convinces me it’s hard work. We drained the tank by gravity — no fancy pump to help out. Regardless, our patch of God’s Little Acre belched and uttered a dry, wry “Thank you.”
Being in the water-hauling business is expensive. A round trip to the treatment plant consumes gas and time, and people I’ve talked to mention having to rush just to make four deliveries a day. Unless someone’s willing to pay big bucks for a load of water, it seems highly unlikely anyone’s making a lot of money by delivering it.
Some people are collecting water from their morning showers as well. We wonder how many such showers it takes for a person to water an average lawn for free. Of course, the cost of muscle-relaxing balms needs to be factored in.
When the treated wastewater went on sale, I sensed some bureaucratic chiding of those who have invested in containers to distribute water. The implication was that people ought not profit from this new venture, given the then-low price of effluent. But few pickups in the area are powerful enough to tote more than 250 gallons at a time, so the full 1,000-gallon quota for $1.25 would necessitate making four trips each day.
And gas prices? Well, they’re still higher than the recycled water. At first, when I read about 1,000 gallons for $1.25, I wondered how officials arrived at that rate. Would a buck and a quarter even begin to cover the hourly wages for the men at the plant? And few of the buyers would be able to carry off their money’s worth in one trip.
This week, the rates are up — considerably.
Let’s say one wants to buy only 100 gallons: under the old rate, that would be only twelve-and-a-half cents. The new rate that just kicked in, is about 12 times that amount, or $1.42 per 100 gallons. The factor of 12 times the original rate is even more than the 500 percent increase in water rates that the city seemed to think was probable, several months ago.
A call to the city utilities department revealed some interesting rate structures.
Fifty cents now buys 35 gallons of water. But why 35? Do water buyers generally ask for that particular quantity? It’s simpler to sell 100 gallons for $1.42.
Reclaimed water is still cheaper than milk, gas or bottled water, but please don’t try to drink that effluent stuff.
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I visited briefly with a former neighbor from Pecos Street, Josephine Larrañaga Guerin, whom I hadn’t seen since childhood. She told me it was sometimes necessary for her to run to a dictionary while reading Work of Art. That’s great! I try to introduce at least one new word per column. And besides, it’s good for the mind and also helps provide cardio-vascular benefits.
On that note, as we approach the Fourth of July weekend, I hope the days of celebration become imbriferous for Josephine and all of you. It’s happened several times before.
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Sunday morning, our family joined many others to watch the annual Storrie Lake Triathlon, which included a mile swim, a 24-mile bike race and a 10-K run. About 100 people completed the course, including six from this area: Albert Bourbon, Joe Whiteman, Joe Wickert, Richard Rougeux, Kaaren Rougeux and Adam Brister.
Bourbon, 52, came out 40th overall. Some participants said that the wind that kicked up around 10 a.m., around the time most competitors were on their bicycles, made the return from the Sapello area quite difficult.
We watched our daughter-in-law, Heather Trujillo, from Albuquerque, compete the course. She, along with our son Ben, seems to find some kind of competition to enter almost every weekend.
We believe the triathlon is a great event. Cars and spectators filled the park.
But really, can park officials come up with a fair and consistent policy on spectator admission? Some in the crowd appear to have gotten in to the park by simply announcing they came to watch the events. But others had to pay the standard $5 entry fee, regardless of their reasons for attending.
Spectators, there for only a few hours, don’t exactly place burdens on the state park. They’re there to watch, not to picnic, camp or go boating, fishing or sailing.
So which is it? Though $5 is by no means a staggering amount, it would be helpful to know the ground rules — and to know they’re being applied consistently.
Art Trujillo is a copy editor at the Optic and a contributing member of the newspaper’s Editorial Board. He may be reached by calling 425-6796 or by e-mail to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.