14 Apr 2009

Water is Too Cheap!

This story from Australia (via TS) has the typical, sad elements (people use less, then face higher water bills; all the money is going for desal).

What caught my attention was this tidbit:
Canberrans pay the most for their water, slugged an average of $879 a year, while Melburnians pay the least at $539 annually.
That's $630 and $386 using exchange rates and $668 and $409 using PPP rates [PDF] (Australia is 6 percent more expensive than the US.)

Compare these numbers to the average water bills in:[Damn -- can ANYONE send me a single comparison of rates?]

Anyway, you get the point -- Aussies are paying more -- sometimes more than DOUBLE -- what Californians are paying for water. Oh, and they use 13 percent the water that Sacramento residents use: 140 liters/capita/day vs. 1,060 LCD (280 gal/cap/day).

Bottom Line: Want people to use less water? Raise prices!


  1. Do you happen to know why this is the case? Is the water filtering and transportation costs that much higher for Australia?

  2. 1) Australia is using more desal -- that's expensive.

    2) They appear to be using more "conservation pricing" -- high prices that discourage use...

  3. Ok, I agree in case of massive wasting of water, as it happen in Sacramento. But, which would be the point if willing to reduce the consumption in Australia? Forget about the price, which is already on the limit, any step not necessarily meaning a final price increase? Can we be optimist towards society as to deploy any tariff system which improves the benefits of current increasing blocks system? I'm afraid the answer in NO, probably your solution is valid just for extreme cases as in the US...

  4. @La visio -- I think you are questioning the use of prices in areas where water is already used efficiently (as in Australian cities), and I agree that there is a limit to the effectiveness of prices. Where I *disagree* is the number of places that can improve -- I'd guess that over 80% of the world's freshwater is mis-managed, whether in agriculture, the environment or cities. In those places, prices and markets can be quite useful...


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