22 January 2008

SoCal Water Wars

MWD (the subject of my dissertation) is trying to put a formula into place that will allocate water among member agencies. There are winners and losers in the formula, which appears to have sufficient political backing. That's bad news for the losers and bad news for fair and efficient allocation of urban water in Southern California.

In the comments section of the article, the people bash growth, Mexicans, cotton farmers, et al., but nobody proposes an economic solution. Here it is:
  1. Allocate 100-200 gallons/person/day to everyone. That takes care of human rights, the poor, et al.
  2. Allocate the rest of the water (50-60%) via auction: Those who want it, pay for it. That takes care of the farmers, biotech, lawns, new growth areas, etc.
  3. Use auction money to pay costs, and rebate the rest on a per capita basis (more equity).
This solution doesn't need to consider history, weather fluctuations, low flush toilets, etc. Everyone will see how expensive water is (via price) and make their own decisions on how much to buy on top of their "lifeline" entitlement.

Simple. Hope it happens soon!

2 comments:

Admiral said...

What I don't understand is how the deliveries could have fallen so precipitously over the past 15-20 years... by a factor of 2-4x?! Could that really be due to diminished snowpacks -- or is it due to other diminished resources?

David Zetland said...

Admiral: Take a look at the SWP and CVP deliveries in this powerpoint. You will see that TOTAL deliveries have not really fallen at all over the past 20 years.

The case at MWD (something I know more about) is even more optimistic -- deliveries have trended up.

Note a BIG caveat -- the SWP was never built out to capacity (Peripheral canal defeat in 1982, etc) and recent pumping restrictions have imposed even greater restrictions.

The snowpack problem (besides 2006-7 winter) is COMING to us now -- global warming will make what we are seeing today look like a picnic.