31 July 2008

Crazy San Diego

The San Diego's Mayor Sanders has declared a drought, but he refuses to ration water -- let alone raise prices!* Apparently, he has pined his hopes on voluntary conservation (remember? the type that saw water use go up?) and winter rains.

All I can say is that this guy is either crazy or in developers' pockets (don't stop building!). If you can't tell which, check out these past posts on San Diego.

Either way, the prognosis (more demand, less supply) is for shortages that will damage quality of life in San Diego, harm many businesses, and leave the region begging for water from wiser neighbors.

But wait! Perhaps Sanders has a clever strategy to run the wells dry and then demand water from IID farmers dumping water in the nearby desert. Although he would probably get it ("humanitarian disaster"), he would be probably end up imprisoned for criminal negligence of his citizens' safety and shot by angry farmers.

Bottom Line: There's a drought! Do something! (Raise prices!)

* Wait -- one article says that he's proposing to raise prices by six percent -- that's $3.31 on average. Are you ready for the yawns?

via DW and WaterSISWEB


  1. So if the price elasticity of demand is .33 or so, we'd expect, what, a 2% drop in consumption? Before even accounting for inflation, income growth, and the year's weather? Pshaw.

  2. Maybe this is a dumb question, but isn't desalinization where we need to end up? 3/4 of the earth is salt water. If we're suffering from shortages, it seems our lack of imagination and innovation is the only thing keeping us from a practically unlimited supply of water. I know it's expensive, but it can't be more expensive than B-52 bombers that are never deployed and foreign aid programs that impede our domestic interests. Is my math off or are politicians incapable of basic calculations?

  3. @Casey -- good question. Desal is more expensive than other ways of acquiring water (e.g., recycling, transfers from ag, etc.).

    That said, there are surely many better ways to spend government money (in the US and elsewhere), but the current allocation probably reflects a combination of corruption, lobbying, voter preferences, FUD, and path-dependency. Water (and other "social services") rank low on the list. Also note that water supply is usually a local/state issue. When the Feds get involved, things often end up worse.


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