Sanjay Gaur gives an excellent overview of how to set prices based on water budgets. Here are his slides [PPS] and 25 min of audio [4MB MP3 -- I started a few minutes late]. Although I prefer the simpler "some for free, pay for more" version of conservation pricing, Gaur is one of many consultants helping utilities roll out the (lawn-saving, politically-easier) water budget system. If you want to hear more, contact him at email@example.com or 213-327-1640.
Bill Eisenstein give an excellent overview of the political/economic/biological situation in the Delta. Here are his slides [42MB PDF] and one hour and 20 minutes of audio [14MB MP3 -- I started a few minutes late]. Bill worked for several years on the CalFed process, and he has a good grasp of realities and dangers in the Delta. If you want to hear more, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-219-3083.
Chris Brooks and I have a water chat [13MB MP3] about groundwater in Arizona; also see this post. Brooks recently added a law degree to his years of experience as an groundwater hydrologist.
Here's an additional comment he emailed me:
I was thinking about a common misperception wrt water. People invariably ask me "Is Tucson/Arizona running out of water?" The short answer I give them is, no we have plenty of water we just need to do a better job of efficiently allocating and using what we have.Hear hear! If you want to hear more, contact him at email@example.com or 520-661-4403.
The longer answer is that we may be running out of water that is at a price/quality that we are used to, especially in certain discrete locations. But that is more a matter of poor planning than resource insufficiency. With proper planning, proper pricing, and clearly defined property rights (readily transferable) in water we can have adequate water to meet our needs for many years to come - even with climate change.
Speaking of ground water, the NYT writes about the struggle to regulate it in California. Yes, PLEASE!
Bottom Line: There are a lot of bright people in the water business, and it's a good idea to borrow their smarts (for a reasonable price :) if you want to understand what's going on...