How to conserve water

Suspected miscreant flagrantly misuses resources.

Aquanomics details how voluntary compliance and education are ineffective in cutting water usage, as Los Angeles and San Diego are learning. As are their “git tough” programs that upon examination, are toothless.

The new L.A. “drought busters” program where, 16, count ’em 16, water cops will prowl a city of several million looking for evildoers wasting water (“drop that garden hose and reach for the sky, punk”) is just a silly PR stunt that will accomplish little. San Diego is worse, they want neighbors to inform on those who might be wasting water. Will we see grannies there led away at 4 am in handcuffs after a neighbor spotting them watering their petunias during the day?

There is, however, a proven and effective way to cut water consumption, says Aquanomics. Raise prices with a tiered rate system that penalizes heavy users.

Yet all this seems absurd when you consider that agricultural users in California, who use enormous amounts of water, pay extremely low, highly subsidized water rates to grow rice cotton in the desert. Madness, isn’t it?


  1. Response to Senator Boxer re. Water Conservation

    I received an e-newsletter appeal from Senator Boxer asking that I conserve water because of the current drought in California. It’s admirable that our members of Congress are joining local and State government efforts to reduce water consumption. But there has always been an underbelly to our efforts to reduce per capita water use during droughts.

    Below is my response to the Senator through her web site. If I receive anything other than an automatic robo-reply, I’ll add it to this post at that time.

    Senator Boxer:

    Recently, a insightful letter was published in the San Jose Mercury News. It was a short but powerful statement. It said “I’ll believe there is a drought when they stop issuing building permits.”

    I have spent 35 years in water management, 23 as an elected member of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.I have watched this District surcharge water rates so current residents pay for water systems that will be used to serve future growth, while discounting agricultural rates 90% to farmers, until they sell to developers and make millions on the land that many would like to keep in production as a local food supply.

    I have been through several droughts and have watched businesses and residents respond to both voluntary and mandatory rationing. Despite all these admirable responses, people did notice that building permits continued to be issued without any concern for the shrinking water supply. Because governance is often separated between land use agencies and water agencies, there is no nexus to control this problem.

    If you want public support for achieving more water use efficiency, I would suggest that you work with the California legislature to find other ways to pay for the State’s future growth than on the backs of its current residents and businesses, many of whom have already reduced their per capita water use to minimal levels.

    Never Thirst

  2. CA rice is generally grown in the sacramento valley, which while drier than connecticut, is well above the precipitation of a desert, with annual rainfall averaging around 20-30 inches (more in flood years, less in drought years). it just all falls in the winter and early spring, so it looks really dry in the summer. mediterranean climate and all that.

    the cotton down in the san joaquin, OTOH, is really climate inappropriate. but rice is sort of a different story.

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