Prices are going up for water in southern California and will probably stay up. There’s too much demand for water coming from in semi-arid areas and not enough water available, especially during the current drought. Nor does anyone really know what a normal amount of water is.
The end is here, or at least near. As one California water official put it today, “The era of cheap water is over”. Call it peak water, if you like, but the water calculus of California with respect to housing and economic development, long disconnected from reality, is finally on its way back to somewhere appropriate — if mostly because there is no choice.
A few obvious things could be done. Raising prices drops consumption. This should include water for agricultural crops too, as the farmers should no longer be heavily subsidized. Give them tax incentives to switch to crops that use less water or for devising ways to save water. Lawns with water thirsty grass in desert-like areas should be banned (some municipalities already do this), with drought-resistant plants mandated instead. Golf courses in deserts, like in Palm Springs, are an abomination. Shut them down. Really.