The end of cheap water

rio grande

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.


  1. The whole idea of bringing in millions (billions?) of gallons of water from hundreds of miles away– stealing it from another ecosystem– is an abomination. As is dumping it in the ocean when you’re done with it. (Both LA and Orange counties still dump MOST of the water they use.)

    Here in Utah, we’re limited to what comes out of the ground and from the sky. It’s distributed for use by a system of water rights, which can be bought and sold– and taken back by the State if they’re not being used. The system isn’t perfect, but at least we know how much water we can use and who gets to use it. When Cedar City wants to expand, for example, they have to buy water rights from people willing to sell in order to accomodate more city usage.

  2. The freakazoids are already once again talking up stealing water from the Colombia. What part of it’s impossible don’t they understand? OK, ok, yes it is physically possible to move fluid up to six thousand feet in elevation (to in some places seven or eight thousand feet above sea level) and then several thousand miles to the south. Yes, physically possible, but practical? Sorry bob, Luv ‘ya, but I got no sympathy. Get your water from someone else.

    Already native, if they try I’ll go terrorist.

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