24 August 2008

Water Fascism or Follies?

LA residents will be DOUBLE fined for violating watering restrictions, SD residents are encouraged to turn in their "waster" neighbors.

The pressure to conserve is leading to some surreal scenes:
The anti-drought initiative has coincided with efforts by Villaraigosa to keep his top appointee at the DWP, Commission President Nick Patsaouras, from quitting his post. Perhaps the utility's most aggressive watchdog on spending issues, Patsaouras sent a resignation e-mail Monday, but the mayor refused to accept it.

[snip]

Villaraigosa discussed his appointee as he stood near two of the city's 16 "drought busters," inspectors who will issue fines to those caught violating the new rules two or more times. The team will look for various violations, such as washing cars with a hose that lacks a shut-off device.

One resident questioned whether the city was being fastidious about its own water usage. West Los Angeles resident Eric Shabsis said he had seen sprinklers running during the day outside the Cheviot Hills Recreation Center and a city facility in Palms.
"Refuse to accept resignation"? "Drought Busters"? "Daytime sprinkler violations"?

While I appreciate the "need" for action in SoCal, these measures are probably the least effective way to get people to use less water.

This article says why:
Mayor Jerry Sanders began pushing residents earlier this year to save water. He acknowledged last week, though, that the effort had failed and said the city may in fact use more water this year than it has previously.

[snip]

Shames dubbed the authority's 20-Gallon Challenge, which has urged residents to save 20 gallons each day, "woefully inadequate."

"I violently disagree with this almost pathological preoccupation with education," Shames said. "Education is like an excuse for yet another pamphlet."

[snip]

The UCAN report says officials from cities and water districts throughout the region must increase -- not decrease -- their conservation efforts. One of the most important steps, Shames said, is to establish tiered water rates that penalize the heaviest users. While many districts charge more as a customer consumes more water, the price hike isn't significant enough, he said.

"The customer who conserves isn't being given the proper message that you're doing a good job," Shames said. "Because it doesn't have much of an impact on what they're charged. The signals are so horribly upside down in the way we charge for water in this county."
The UCAN report [PDF] gives many tips on how to conserve water, but people need a reason to conserve. I'll let you guess....

Bottom Line: Raise prices.

hattips to DW

1 comment:

  1. I received an e-newsletter appeal from Senator Boxer asking that I conserve water because of the current drought in California. It's admirable that our members of Congress are joining local and State government efforts to reduce water consumption. But there has always been an underbelly to our efforts to reduce per capita water use during droughts.

    Below is my response to the Senator through her web site. If I receive anything other than an automatic robo-reply, I'll add it to this post at that time.

    Senator Boxer:

    Recently, a insightful letter was published in the San Jose Mercury News. It was a short but powerful statement. It said "I'll believe there is a drought when they stop issuing building permits."

    I have spent 35 years in water management, 23 as an elected member of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.I have watched this District surcharge water rates so current residents pay for water systems that will be used to serve future growth, while discounting agricultural rates 90% to farmers, until they sell to developers and make millions on the land that many would like to keep in production as a local food supply.

    I have been through several droughts and have watched businesses and residents respond to both voluntary and mandatory rationing. Despite all these admirable responses, people did notice that building permits continued to be issued without any concern for the shrinking water supply. Because governance is often separated between land use agencies and water agencies, there is no nexus to control this problem.

    If you want public support for achieving more water use efficiency, I would suggest that you work with the California legislature to find other ways to pay for the State's future growth than on the backs of its current residents and businesses, many of whom have already reduced their per capita water use to minimal levels.

    Never Thirst!

    ReplyDelete

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