01 August 2008

Running out of Water

How Stuff Works gives an unsatisfying treatment to the "Water Crisis". In it, Clark blames overpopulation on the water crisis, speculates on how dams can solve it, and then gets into a dissatisfying discussion of water wars and desalination.

There is one bright moment:
raising the price of water could reduce waste. If water costs more, it would become more valuable to consumers. Logically, this would encourage the public to conserve more. In other words, if water is more expensive, a person would be less likely to keep the water running while he brushes his teeth.
Great, but too bad this point is buried in four pages that are light on details and weak in analysis.

Bottom Line: The only reason we are "running out of water" or facing a "water crisis" is that we are living beyond our means. (You don't hear about running out of wine or a wine crisis, do you?) Allocate water rights and price water appropriately -- end of problem.

6 comments:

  1. This is the problem. People are not educated properly on the fundamentals of water. This video from the BBC science series "Look Around You" does a much better job of conveying the key points.

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  2. "Allocate water rights and price water appropriately-end of problem" Exactly!! I have never seen such a major problem with such a simple, inexpensive solution. What I do not understand is why no one is even willing to discuss this idea.

    Yesterday, nine mayors in San Diego counties voted to buy $1,500 to $2,000 an acre foot desal water to replace $17.50 an acre foot water from the Colorado River????

    What do you think is the reason a discussion of pricing is so toxic?

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  3. Good questions, and I have no good answers. I am trying to work from
    the farmers side -- to get them to OFFER water for sale.

    I think that markets for water are the third rail -- or politicians
    see it as the third rail -- but things are changing with increasing
    desperation.

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  4. I agree to a point, but increasing pop'n appropriating more water takes away from ecosystems, which need water to function.

    It's not that hard of a concept. Markets won't stop this or allocate enough water to ecosystems. Markets simply allocate resources to those who will pay, and I haven't seen a Delta smelt with a bank account lately.

    Further discussed at Resiliance Alliance blog:

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  5. Dano -- all of my proposals BEGIN with an enviro set-adice, e.g., All-in Auction

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  6. Ah. I missed that AIA bit. I'm better now.

    Boy, that's going to depopulate some areas in the Intermountain West (which will happen sooner or later anyway).

    If I may, you may want to think about some sort of limit for cross-basin transfers to ensure environmental flows, if property rights are involved.

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