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Paying for conservation at Denver Water

Run, toilet, run!

Denver Water is reportedly considering a hefty 7.5 percent rate increase for next year -- an amount that would raise the average Denverite's bill by just over $19 in 2009, with suburban customers getting socked for more than $33 extra. According to John Wright, Denver Water's manager of rate administration, climbing operating costs are a factor in this anticipated price hike. But so are "lower or flat water sales" of the sort being encouraged by the agency's current marketing campaign, which tries to convince us to reduce the amount of water we're using via unexpectedly amusing commercials (like the running toilet seen above), a fancy-schmancy website at UseOnlyWhatYouNeed.org and loads of giveaway merchandise.

Upon visiting the "Freebies" section of the site, I was distressed to learn that assorted Use Only What You Need T-shirts were no longer available. Clicking on them reveals this message: "Sorry, all sold out. Sold being a figure of speech considering all these Use Only What You Need items are free. Maybe that's why they were so popular. Then again, maybe it's because people like you really do want to help get the conservation word out. So please, keep up the good work. And use only what you need." However, free yard signs, car magnets and canvas tote bags are still available.

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I ordered a tote. I figure that if I'm going to be paying extra for not wasting water, I might as well save a nickel at King Soopers by using my own bag rather than one of theirs. Over the course of the year, I won't break even, but I might make a dent in the extra charge Denver Water wants to assess because people like me have listened so well to their conservation message. Who knew using less would cost us more? -- Michael Roberts

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