A manifesto, it turns out, is a statement of principles. Accordingly, it should address what principles should guide those who are responsible for the safety, security and long-term sustainability of our drinking water supplies. At first glance, most of these principles might seem simple, basic, even humble. Many of these principles have already been articulated by others in recent waterworks literature; they are commonly advanced in technical conferences; and they are undergirded by federal and state regulatory incentives.
However, there are impediments to both the adoption of and adherence to the seemingly most self-evident of principles. For example, in regions where water sources are deemed adequate to meet current and projected demands, calls for restraint and conservation may seem punitive both to water users and utility management. Since water utilities derive about three-quarters of their income from selling water, reductions in water use can only result in lost revenue. To water utility management, promoting restraints on water use is often regarded as akin to asking General Motors to sell fewer vehicles. For balance, revenue lost from any proposed water use reduction must be offset by a compensating rate structure adjustment for the utility. As for those profligate users in the community, equity requires that they be billed to pay the true costs associated with meeting their excessive demands.