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Fourteen Buckets of . . . Dishwater

Richard Strahm dives into the issues that face Lansdale residents. Today, it's all about sewers!

Since Saturday starts with an “S,” we’re going to talk about sewage today!  What got me on this subject?  Well, today’s item may not have manufacturing ties to Lansdale, but the item has been in the borough for a long, long time.  I got it off another collector who was paring down his inventory of weird stuff.

This bed pan has a patent date of June 5, 1900 and is touted to be “The most comfortable and sanitary bed pan in the world.”  

I have not attempted to test the accuracy of that claim.  

But since my home was for many years a local doctor’s office here in the borough, I thought it a fitting artifact to have.

And it does get you thinking about what one has to do with a . . . let’s just call it an active bed pan.

Ugh.

So that got me thinking about all the stuff that goes down our respective drains here in the borough.  But who wants to talk about sewage?  What a gross subject.  So to make this a bit more palatable, every time I make you think about . . . well, you know what I’m talking about, I’m going to use the term “dishwater.”  Much better, no?

As property owners, we all get a sewer bill once a quarter.  And I often hear a lot of grumbling from residents that it’s an expensive bill.  If you look at the back of the bill, it tells you that your sewer bill is based on 90% of your water consumption (the nice people at the North Penn Water Authority share that information with the borough).  From there it gets a bit tricky.  The bill tells me that I can find the rate schedules by looking on the borough’s web site.  After a bit of fumbling around there (note to self, another topic for another day!), I didn’t find anything that remotely looked like a rate schedule, so we’ll just say for now that the borough uses some kind of magic pixie dust to compute the bill.  So your bill is made up of that usage charge, and something called a unit charge.  I get charged for two units.  And I have no idea what they are.  

Should I be happy or slightly freaked out that the borough thinks that I have two units?

While I think that the sewer bill itself is a bit incomprehensible, we’re here today to talk about how much it costs to get all that . . . dishwater out of your house.  How much is it worth to you to be able to not think about your . . . dishwater once it goes down the drain?

I’m looking at a water bill that shows I used 6,732 gallons of water in an 89 day period.  Using the 90% modifier, that equates to 6,059 gallons of . . . dishwater.  Or about 68 gallons of . . . dishwater per day.  That’s a lot of . . . dishwater!  Imagine it in five gallon buckets.  No, stop!  Your mind is wandering away from dishwater!  Get back with the program and think of it as dishwater!  That means that every day I would have 14 fetid, stinking pails of . . . dishwater to deal with if we didn’t have a centralized sewer system.

Your usage may vary.

For that billing period, I was charged $124.15.  And do you know what?  I was happy to pay it.  That equates to $1.39 per day.  How the heck would I ever be able to get rid of 14 buckets of . . . dishwater every day for less than a buck and a half?  I find that a bargain!

Ever wonder what happens to your . . . dishwater once it leaves your house? Here’s where the borough’s web site is FULL of information.  Give it a read.  It’s both nauseating and fascinating to read about the trip your . . . dishwater takes after it leaves your house.  Almost like a ride at Disney.

There’s the nitrification and de-nitrification process (“You put the nitrites in, you put the nitrites out, you put the nitrites in and you shake it all about. . . “ I dare you to get THAT song out of your head today!), and something called “gravity thickeners.”  That last one makes me shudder a bit.

But these steps and processes are all spelled out in great detail – and help you understand that when your Lansdale . . . dishwater is reintroduced to the environment it’s ecologically safe and sound.

So here’s my takeaway for the day.  I think our sewer fees are reasonable.  And if anyone has arguments to the contrary, I’d like to hear them.  

But the billing process needs clarification.  And our borough’s web site is a mess.

Two problems that’s I’d like to tackle when you vote me into a council seat!

Happy Saturday!

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Heather Feerrar March 21, 2013 at 06:10 AM
I personally preferred the prices back BEFORE the second depression. The price isn't the problem, the issue is ALL of the utilities have double if not tripled in the last few years. I remember when my utilites cost a quarter of my mortgage payment... now the mortgage is CHEAPER..... and I have a fixed rate :/ The messy website aside I think you are missing the big picture.
Richard Strahm March 31, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Heather - I'm not sure if you're a borough resident or not. But I need some help following your math. All of your utility bills have doubled or tripled in the past few years? Mine haven't. And I don't see how yours could have. The fact that your utility bills add up to more than your mortgage payment tells me one thing -- your mortgage payment must be the envy of your neighbors! An average area home buyer of a $200,000 home (the median price for a home sold in the borough in the last year was $205,000) would pay around $1,200 per month for a mortgage payment that included principal, interest, insurance and taxes. I don't think the utilities could even approach that number.

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