23 Feb 2009

Transparently Dumb

I'm thinking that the water managers and politicians in San Diego must be drinking something other than simple, tasty water. It seems that they are bound and determined to implement the most-stupid possible water rationing scheme, i.e.,
Even San Diegans who have torn out their lawns, planted drought-tolerant landscaping and scrimped on irrigation will have to cut their water use if supplies are reduced in July.

That's the approach the San Diego Water Department is contemplating and selling at forums across the city this week. The plan is still being drafted and will require City Council approval. But as it currently stands it will penalize residents who've been civic-minded, requiring them to cut the same percentage as the water hog with the plush yard next door.


That has brought protests from city residents who have conserved.

The city says the approach is the most equitable. At a recent news conference, Mayor Jerry Sanders said the city could not guarantee cuts would be fair.

"You're never going to make everybody happy," he said. "In fact we'll probably upset everybody to some extent. And that probably is going to mean that we're in the ballpark of where we should be."

Other water agencies believe they've found ways to fairly distribute water cuts to avoid penalizing those who have conserved.

The Sweetwater Authority plans to follow the same model as San Diego -- with one difference. Homeowners who use less than average will not be required to cut further.

If a 20 percent cut comes, residents whose consumption is already 20 percent below average will not have to cut more. Higher users will.

"We're targeting the people who have used a lot of water," said Mark Rogers, the authority's general manager. "I don't want to penalize people who've already been conserving."
As I pointed out recently, Mayor Sanders should be fired for gross incompetence in pushing this plan.

  1. It's obviously unfair (and inefficient!)
  2. It's obvious how an alternative scheme would work: Give per capita allocations to homeowners, i.e., some for free, pay for more.
  3. Neighboring cities can and are implementing better plans.
I also have to comment on Sanders' "rule of thumb":
...we'll probably upset everybody to some extent. And that probably is going to mean that we're in the ballpark of where we should be.
No, it's only good that everyone is upset when people are upset about the opposite things (e.g., dividing a pie between two kids, each who wants the whole thing). Sanders has got everyone upset about the SAME STUPID THING, i.e., rationing without regard to prior conservation* or consideration of an individual's RIGHT to water. That's like throwing the pie on the ground.

Note also that Brad Luckey of IID said the same thing ("everyone's upset") and drew the same, false conclusion ("we are doing the right thing") when the opposite was true -- IID is screwing things up royally, for everyone.

Bottom Line: Managers who preside over shortage and rationing should be fired if they are not professional enough to quit.

* Note that per capita allocations reward conservation by allowing customers to AVOID paying more because they do not waste water.

1 comment:

Ryan said...

Wow, good point. I live in San Diego, so I will be facing these policies directly.

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