27 Aug 2008

Conserve but How?

Tim Brick, Chairman of the Board of the MWD -- the organization that imports 80% of SoCal's urban water -- wrote an editorial calling for conservation, i.e.,
The Legislature is debating a bill that would aim to reduce the per capita use of water by 20 percent by the year 2020. It is an ambitious goal. But it is only the start. The governor's delta task force is recommending a 40 percent reduction in per-capita water use by 2050, and more after that. Conservation is no longer just a civic virtue. It is fast emerging as a statewide necessity. There is no longer the assurance that a healthy snowpack in March means a healthy water supply come May.
The funny thing is that he says NOTHING on how to get conservation.

OTOH, MWD has nearly completed a $1.2 billion pipeline to import more water to its reservoir at Diamond Valley,* so you can see the divide between Brick's mouth and his money. I can see why they are calling for conservation, but I cannot see any REAL action in that direction (i.e., higher prices). Instead, MWD is spending another $billion or so to increase supplies. Guess what's going to happen? Demand will continue to grow until it exceeds the additional supply,** and SoCal will have a shortage -- again.

Bottom Line: The best way to get conservation is to raise prices. Don't tell people to exchange their virtue for necessity.

* Better branding than "Domenigoni Valley," no?

** The pipe allows MWD (in theory) to capture more runoff. Global warming is causing faster snow melt, so runoff periods are shorter and more intense.