SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - Most people pay for water according to how much they use, but in Sulphur, everybody pays the same. So, does that contribute to public emergencies, such as the one declared this week?
In the City of Sulphur residents pay a flat rate of $19.97 per month for water - whether they use a lot or a little.
"You pay a flat rate every month for your water no matter whether you use a thousand gallons, 10,000 gallons or 100,000 as a residential person," said Mayor Chris Duncan, who admits there are homeowners who waste.
"There's waste every day, because there's no incentive to fix your toilet if it's running or you've got that leaky pipe. But, as a city, if we see a lot of water in the yard, we're going to address that with the homeowner that they may have a broken pipe or a broken water line," said Duncan.
Yet Duncan doubts the flat rate contributes to hard freeze problems, because he says people will protect their property regardless of whether it costs.
"People want to protect their property. So they're going to protect their property whether they're water metered or not water metered," said Duncan.
And, at least short term, water is cheaper than plumbers who go for about $100 an hour.
"It's going to cost you more in a plumber than to pay that water bill," he said.
Duncan admits most cities use meters, but says it's not up to him to make the change, and adds it would require a vote of the people.
"There's only one governing body that can act to put it in front of the people. And that's the City Council," he said.
Besides, he observes, people respond when there's an urgent need to conserve.
"When we put the emergency order out last night, people listened. They heard that they were putting their safety at risk by fire protection and the possibility of us having to completely shut the water off like some other cities had to do in the state," said Duncan.
Though homes in Sulphur do not have meters, businesses do, and therefore pay for what they use.