Cost will encourage conservation. Same thing's going to happen with oil.
A new study by the University of California system and NASA documents that the
Colorado River basin is literally being sucked dry as various water users tap
ground water to replace stream flow. Much of the groundwater being used is
non-renewable. The ground water loss has been roughly six times greater than
the losses in Lake Mead and Lake Powell.You can just let market
forces take care of this, without admitting the likely driver of this process -
climate change. If those of us who believe in AGW are right, only a region wide
plan can deal with this crisis. Yes, a plan. Does that give you hives? We
always plan. The only question is on what level. As you know
several of the climate change models predict the desert Southwest will simply
run out of water. That, and the fact that change is happening faster than any
of the models predicted, should bring about some urgency. Some politicos are
going to have to risk talking about global warming, perhaps to the detriment of
their political careers.
Also, your assumption we have only two options - market or "shaming"
trivializes a very serious matter.
This sounds good. One question if the editorial panel (or someone else)
would elaborate. How does less water available actually (or how could it) drive
it up in terms of a market price? Do people bid or would people bid on the
water they can use?
If by "market forces" the Deseret News means that everyone using water
for every purpose pays the same price for water, I agree. The farmer, the
swimming pool, the commercial car wash, the landscaping and decorating, every
business, every public utility, every government function, even the water
company itself, and if every user pays with the same price structure according
to volume, then I agree. And if that can be put in place, if
whistle blowers see or know of a crime being committed, they are obligated and
rewarded for reporting it.
The consequences of the "market approach"? The rich folks in St George
would continue to waste water by the bucketful. A few more dollars for water
means nothing to them. Meanwhile, the single mom, the struggling young couple
with a baby, and the old lady on a fixed income would just go thirsty as water
prices "soar." Three cheers for the market!
Although I agree with using market principles to effectively ration our scare
water supply, I think that the writers of this editorial are trying to give an
"off the cuff" solution to a long running, complex problem.Maybe it would be better to have a (nonpartisan) legal scholar from one of
Utah's fine universities give a more historical and nuanced analysis of
our states water issues.
If you want a good example of this, look at how many yards in Salt Lake have
xeriscaping versus Davis County,(SLC has a lot more) I've lived in both
places, Davis has a flat fee to use irrigation water outside, where SLC
doesn't have irrigation access in very many places, so to water your yard
is much much more expensive. Magically you don't see a ton of waste, and a
lot of people that just tear out water hogs like Kentucky Bluegrass.
If we eliminate shaming what will certain members of society do to feel
intellectually superior to the rest of us. Yes, making water cost sensitive is
more likely to actually solve the problem, but it robs the great joy of feeling
smug while looking down on those not as "enlightened."
Climate change is a serious consideration that has long term implications. The
short term reality of water shortage is a different issue. Confusing the two
does neither problem any favors. Reality-based charging for water usage will
change peoples' behavior, but there should be a tiered fee structure.
Everyone should be entitled to a baseline amount at a low price and those who
have lawns, pools or other high use patterns should pay a higher rate.
Zeroscaping yards will become more common when the real value of water shows up
on a monthly bill.
Mark me down as one who likes food better than green lawns, clean cars, and
washed driveways. It is right to protect water for food providing farmers. One
tier pricing of water would drive farmers out of business, raise food prices,
and harm the poor and the elderly. It is time to prioritize. The wealthy who
can afford three-acre lawns must not be allowed to buy all the water they want.
Market forces alone won't solve this problem.
Yeah let's make water be based on supply and demand so the poor can't
afford to water their lawns and maybe even not take care of basic necessities -
and we therefore turn the slums into the ultra slums. I'm all about market
economics but let's be realistic. Regulation is the solution here. We
water our lawns too much in Utah - end of story. If this state wants to support
a growing population, then we have to accept that our lawns our going to be
yellow in the summer. If that bother you, than move to North Dakota.
This is very serious business. You should study the Mormon pioneers' use
of water as a common resource before you glibly offer a straight market
We read in scripture that God sometimes implemented droughts to humble and
motivate prideful and arrogant people to repentance! Do you suppose??..naaa
couldn't be that now, could it?
Irony Guy at 7:21 nailed it. So did Ultra Bob, just before Irony.Water is the world's next oil crisis.
re: Linus"Mark me down as one who likes food better than green
lawns, clean cars, and washed driveways... It is time to prioritize. The wealthy
who can afford three-acre lawns must not be allowed to buy all the water they
want."Agreed. It reminds of a few summers ago when they
'encouraged' Joe Average to conserve but the golf courses were being
watered every day.
Utah's water prices have been set at least 3x too low across the board.As I once said in another forum:When will politicians
realize that prices are the way to allocate scarce resources?Whether
it's Soviet bread queues, 1970s US oil ration lines, or Governor Herbert
putting up billboards asking people to play nice with the water, attempts to
allocate scarce resources by other means have failed miserably. Politicians keep
wanting to try everything but the one thing that makes sense.We want
people to waste less water? Raise the price of water until people consume
sufficiently less to allow the reservoirs to fill again. We can give people this
strong incentive without causing an increase in median cost of living- for
instance, by reducing and adjusting taxes.
Those who complain that higher water costs would hurt vulnerable groups are
missing the picture. Subsidizing water waste now at the cost of
Utah's future is not the way to protect the poor.Unrealistically cheap water pricing is an extremely ineffective way to address
poverty (and other concerns e.g. agriculture). It only spares the poor a tiny
amount of money each month while giving everyone regardless of income the wrong
incentives regarding water.We have much better ways we can address
those problems. Adjust taxes and programs to meet needs rather than encouraging
people to make stupid choices with their water by not charging a price that
reflects the real costs of water use.
Raising everyone's water bill by 50% won't keep the rich from using a
lot of water on those golf courses and home side lakes. It will make
life just more miserable for those just getting by now. Let the poor only take
one shower a week I guess to solve everyone's problem. That's the best
part about being rich.
I lived in LA in the 80's--early 90's during a water shortage. We
were required to reduce water usage by 20%. Violations for not limiting water
usage began with hefty fines to having a water restricter device installed on
your water line. Low flow shower heads were mandatory on any new construction
or when buying/selling a house. Low-flow toilets and the "if it's
yellow it is mellow, if it is brown, flush it down" became standard.
Washing cars and watering landscape during daylight hours was a no-no.Today, each water district and local municipality set their own water
restrictions, penalties etc.
Shoot! I love the few petunias I have and other flowers. I sneak out early to
water them a little. They make me happy and keep me from getting depressed. I
do turn off the tap when I brush my teeth or wash my hands. Oh my.
Of course they use shaming in California. It is one-party rule there, the
liberals. They do what they know best: divide and foment contention. We have
had six years of it from Obama. He plays the race card pitting whites against
blacks. He pits the rich against the poor. He can't bring Congress
together to accomplish anything. Division and contention are the fruits of the
Democratic Party. Now they have neighbors squealing on each other in
Agreed!But why is the DN so gung-ho about proposing this with WATER,
BUT not for Oil, Coal or Farming?There's a reason
why gas is $7-$9 a gallon in Europe and Asia -- MARKETS drive it.BTW -- Enough and to spare -- is only valid when we are GOOD Stewards of
the Earth.Waste it, and the promise is null and void.
As with all problems education must be the first step. In other parts of the
world they bring in restriction as needed. Look at Australia for
example they limit Hose use, limiting car washing, lawn watering and ban use of
a hose to wash the drive. This is followed up by adverting water saving tips.
The government handed out water saving showers during the last drought.At the end of the day when the water runs out we are all in big trouble.
"In a drought as severe as the current one, water prices would soar; and
when water becomes expensive, people would use less of it out of self-interest.
There would be no need to restrict people from washing their cars, for
instance."I wish this was true. As part of that
what-ever-x-percent, I know i'm extremely blessed. But also means things
like this impact me differently. For example, I can afford to use as much gas
as I like because it is an insignificant percentage of my income. Same with
Water. If my water bill doubled, it wouldn't change much in how I used it.
The bite of increased market cost impacts people at different levels, hurting
those at the bottom the most.In Germany they have addressed this
issue with regard to traffic fines. Rather than a flat rate, traffic fines are
based on your income, insuring they have the same bite and deterrent to all. I
doubt this would ever work here... but thinking that those who live at the upper
end would let their lawns die because rates increase... Highly unlikely. Shame
and social conscience work far better.
Using market forces for commodities such as oil, cellphones, and tvs? Great!Using market forces for necessities such as water and health care?
California is extremely diverse. There are extremely conservative counties,
extremely liberal counties and everything in-between. California has had more
Republican than Democratic governors. Our current governor is a Democrat, the
one before that, a Republican. Currently the state legislature is 2/3 Democratic
and 1/3 Republican. The new U.S. House Majority leader, Kevin McCarthy is from
California. The state doesn't have a policy of reporting water
"infractions," certain locales have instituted "hotlines" where
people can call. Actually, these hotlines could be useful (and they can be
abused as well). For example, my water goes on in the wee hours of the morning,
I don't see how my drip line is working. I could have a hole in a drip
line. or a broken sprinkler head causing water to gush out. Do we
know the political party dominating the communities which have instituted
hotlines? or the party to which those using the hotline belong to? No. Perhaps then we ought not make sweeping assumptions and judgements.
"Water gives life, water takes away life". Mother Earth is running out
of groundwater, we must seriously consider what we are doing, the more water,
gas, and oil we take out from the ground, she will not have the insulation to
keep her cool. She and no one else has the ultimate power to reconstruct the
land, she has done it before, however we know the facts but we ignore the
lessons. We have contaminated the surface waters and the deeper we drill, the
groundwater will be replaced by the contaminated water. Money cannot replace
the natural resources once they are eliminated. We, humans are on a fast pace
Here in the Denver area, the first Y gallons cost X dollars per month, where Y
Is enough water for my large family in a non-sprinkler month and X is a fairly
small number. So for most people who use about that level or less, it's not
an unbearable cost --and that level could probably be kept about the same for
people worried about effects on the poor. Above that here, the next Y gallons
coat 2X (for people like me who want the lawn looking non-dead in July and
August), then 3X, then 4X for everything above that.But if you want
it to hurt for the "rich" and/or also to actually get somewhere, instead
of 2X, 3X, 4X, make the next Y gallons cost 10X, then 50X, then 500X. For golf
courses in the dead of summer, make it 100X, 1,000X, then 10,000X. That is what
is meant by "market forces"--and where you start getting some serious
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but social shaming will never hurt me.
Kind of make's one wonder about the old, superstitious adage of be fruitful
and multiply. Mother Nature has never been one to read relgious scripture. Too
many people using to much of a limited resource.
Under the market plan, the rich will waste water, while the poor go thirsty. I
don't care much for that idea.
@ Denverite,Thanks. I appreciate your taking the time to give some
details. That makes it clear and it appears a equitable system, where the
poor don't suffer, but the rich pay a lot for extra use, thus lowering the
Mark B... do you really think all those Hollywood types went out and bought
Pruis' when they were introduced because they couldn't afford the gas
for their Benz anymore? Or that Fur just became too expensive, and that is why
media prone people don't wear it anymore? Or that we have taxed tobacco so
much that the majority of middle and upper class don't smoke because of
cost?There are plenty like you who don't care about social
responsibility... but a large portion of society does care. Even if it only
changes behavior by half of the people, it is far more effective than trying to
price it out of use. Tobacco is the most odd example of this in that in large
part the largest group who still uses the product is in the lower part of the
economic scale, those whom the tax should impact the most, and yet it has had
minimal impact on usage.
Many wish to associate water shortage with global climate change but don't
demonstrate understanding of the relationship in their comments. The warmer the
climate becomes the less water storage in the form of ice and snow. If this melt
is captured early it is fresh water. Maybe it would be good to establish
technology to do that. Also warmer climate means more and stronger storms.A lot of people think that lush green parks and golf courses are
indicative of water wastage. I remind you that in many cases those parks and
golf courses are actually using waste water. That technology should also be
augmented so that private parties and farmers have access to that waste water
stream. That is called secondary usage. About the
"arbitrary" year 1900; in western USA water law the location of the
water is not the way rights are established but the first use is the oldest and
best right. In many rivers and streams all the water available in the driest
months and years was already allocated by 1900 so that is the year used for
"arbitrary" water decisions. There is more.