1 Jun 2009

Demand Side, Anyone?

In this op/ed, Lester Snow (DWR) and Tim Quinn (ACWA) ask Californians to conserve water:
Indications are that Californians are overwhelmingly willing to conserve if you tell them why it's needed and how to do it. A recent public opinion poll showed that 85 percent of Californians are willing to do significantly more to save water because they recognize our water supply reliability as one of the most pressing issues we face.

The public appears ready and willing to help. The Save Our Water program is here to give Californians the tools and information they need.

We encourage everyone to join us. Plant water-wise landscaping, install a "smart" irrigation controller, and take shorter showers. Look at how you use water inside and outside your home, and do what you can to save. Together, we can make a difference.
The website has lots of nice photos and statistics, and that's just great. The trouble is that MOST PEOPLE do not care about visiting websites to learn how much water is used to brush their teeth. It's what I call the 20/80 rule. What do 80 percent (probably 95 percent) of people care about? Other things. The only way they will "care" about saving water is when it costs more.

I sent this email to Snow and Quinn:
Any reason that you are not mentioning higher prices (alternatively, low prices for people who conserve?)
They did not answer. Why not? Because the elephant in the room is the need to control demand, and these "softly softly" methods with singing dolphins, Mr. Drippy and "voluntary guidelines" are nice to promote and easy to sell to people who do not want to do anything.

The sad result, however, will be water shortage. That's because demand will exceed supply. How can we end shortages? By RAISING PRICES. It may be unpopular, but it's necessary. Even better, it works.

Bottom Line: We can end shortages now and have 100% drinking water security if we raise prices. That's the trade-off, and it's a tradeoff we need to make. Now, I wish that DWR and ACWA would start pretending that they are actually "managing" water, instead of allowing us to waste it and get ourselves into shortage.

1 comment:

WaterSource/WaterBank said...


Water is difficult to legally move/change. Moving water is always a matter of "WITHOUT DAMAGE" to the vested water rights of others. A change of water right(s) can often involve an entire stream/river basin that stretches a couple of hundred miles. Even changing water rights in the side streams can affect several streams due to "calls", historic irrigation practices, return flows, multiple uses, instream flows and challenges to ownership.

Even though insteam flow water rights are usually quite junior in priority, they are "entitled to the conditions that existed when their appropriations were made".

Any change of water right that affects even small segments of streams with instream flow rights can legitimately be denied if, even for short periods of time, the instream flow would be diminished or altered due to water quantity/quality/temperature.

The legal need to "use a water right or lose it" necessitates over-use in order to preserve value which is primarily based on historic use.

Over-use or under-use is in the eye of the beholder and their legal/engineering advisors who will always encourage maximum use to create maximum value.

All new development in the SW region of the future can expect to be approved ONLY if they bring with them a more than reliable supply of necessary water! This is extremely difficult considering the above complexities PLUS the many restrictions in place regarding prohibitions against moving water outside of:
1) basins of origin,
2) conservancy/conservation districts,
3) and Bureau of Reclamation projects.

Credits for conservation efforts are so far not something that is marketable to new commercial/manufacturing/domestic developments.

In fact, just the opposite occurs because of the "use it or lose it" water laws.

CA in particular can be expected to struggle/suffer even more economically if she cannot formulate a way to provide for sustainable future development.

Desalination may solve some of the supply needs, but the energy requirement coupled with the discharge of concentrated salt water will have its environmental opponents.

Keep in mind 21,000 desalination plants in 120 countries only produce 3.4 million acre feet a year !

CA, NV and the Bureau need to seriously consider the future value of a new NON-TRIBUTARY fresh water Source/supply of a million acre feet a year from a versality standpoint.

If there is a "line at the drinking fountain" (priority system) and there is not enough water for everyone in line, those at the end of the line are going to receive NOTHING and will continually push, shove and maneuver to crowd their way in line to the limited supply which is continually diminishing.

Hopefully, someday CA, NV & the Bureau will notice the person who wants to supply those in line with a "new bottle of water".

If you bring your own "new bottle of water" to the line at the drinking fountain, it is yours to use and re-use without regard to the limited supply coming out of the fountain !

Why not investigate a "new bottle of water" that can be developed without damage to the environment or the water rights of others and with cooperation/coordination can be developed to be delivered in the future WITHOUT POWER ?

Note: the "new bottle of water" is 325,900,000,000 gallons per year...

Your ideas of an appropriate "PRICE" for the versatile new supply will work wonders to solve the water dilemmas of the region !

WaterSource/WaterBank waterrdw@yahoo.com

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