Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Turning on the Firehose

Zoo President and CEO Barbara Baker was surprised to learn that the city of Pittsburgh wants to charge her for water. Additionally, she's under the impression that cities typically pay for water.
"But even when they [the zoos] are private, the cities they are in typically provide water, utilities, parking, security, those type of things to the zoo. Here we just get water," Baker said."
Unfortunately for her, the Post-Gazette writer called around. The nearby Cleveland and Maryland zoos both pay for their own water. After a brief search, I found that Denver, Philly, and Dodge City, Kansas each pony up for their water bill. Baltimore has only been paying for its water for the last 10 years or so, and in that time they've managed to reduce water usage by about 70% through conservation efforts. If I can have a water-saving shower head, so can the elephants.

My advice for Ms Baker? Pay for your water, but stick it to the man by reducing your water usage and adding less to the city coffers. And my advice to the city? Make these institutions pay for their water, but don't just turn the fire hose on them. Make a gradual plan to bring them up to full payment over the next few years - or only cover the first $100,000 giving them an incentive to conserve. Also, the Maryland Zoo is a bit behind on their water bill, so I wouldn't count on our zoo to save the city. For everyone else, if you like the zoo, maybe it's time to consider a donation and/or membership? Maybe if you live outside the city you can donate $1000 over the next 10 years on the stipulation that you can revoke your donation if the city ever gains the ability to tax you?

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