19 Jul 2009

Wrong in One Picture

This graphic (via the AWWA) shows that median charges for water are the same in the West as in the Northeast. Now, we all know that the West has water "shortages," and now we see why -- the water is too cheap! (10 ccf is 7,480 gallons.)

NE prices are the same because they -- like prices in the West -- reflect the cost of service, NOT water scarcity. If scarcity prices were included, the price of water in the NE would probably be the same, but prices in the West would be much higher.

Bottom Line: Water shortages in the West are manmade -- that's because we do not raise the price of water (unlike every other commodity) when supplies are running short. Don't blame the drought -- blame politicians and water managers.


  1. WaterSource/WaterBank19 Jul 2009, 13:46:00

    If the chart doesn't reflect the actual cost of the water, let's analyze what it might be in the west ...

    The highest purchase price (cost) at the present time would be $50,000 per acre foot.

    The in-house domestic use utilizing a central sewer system would be 5% consumptive use. ( Effluent would be credited back either by treatment for re-use or exchange. )

    The diagram is assuming on average a domestic use of 250 gallons/day/household X 365 = .28 AF/year X 5% = 0.014 C.U. AF/Yr = 71 homes per AF.

    $50,000 / 71 = $ 704 per home; initial one time cost for the water.

    Domestic use is required to be reliable for at least 100 years, so that would equate to

    $7 per year for the cost in the West.

    The amount of water shown in the chart is for a month, so assuming it is for in-house domestic use,

    $0.58 would have to be added to reflect the initial cost of very expensive domestic water.

    A calculation for lawn irrigation would be much different:

    Assuming a lawn of 2178 square feet ( 20th of an acre) with a requirement of 3 ft/acre/year = 0.15 af, but the Consumptive Use would be 100% ( no credit for return flows from sprinkler irrigation past the root zone).

    The initial cost of 0.15 AF for the water would be $7500 for the lawn irrigation use. Over a 100 year period that would be $75 per year or

    $6.25 per month would have to be added to the chart for the home irrigation use on 2178 square feet.

    Total to add to the chart for domestic and lawn irrigation =
    $ 6.83.

    Calculating a different way based on current costs which have been considered reliable:

    CA is paying about $400 per AF for supplemental water supplies this year. That would equate to $5 per month in our example for lawn irrigation use and $.50 per month for the domestic portion for a total of $5.50 ...


    Assuming others agree with my calculations, you can determine more precise "cause & affect" regarding an increase in price ...

    Raising the price of domestic/lawn watering by $6.50 per month would raise the initial cost of the water from $50,000 per acre foot to ... a $100,000 per acre foot.

    Increasing the supply by a million acre feet each year and using existing storage facilities for storage in times of excess and the generation of 2000 megawatts of renewable energy ( $1 Billion/year) would be of substantial value to CA, NV and the region ...


  2. WaterSource/WaterBank19 Jul 2009, 14:31:00


    These numbers/calculations could be adjusted in numerous ways.

    They reflect the worst case scenario, from a cost standpoint.

    Presently, CA's groundwater supply is ample and free. The calculations may be useful as the groundwater is depleted.

    Investigation, analysis and eventual development of alternative Sources need to occur well in advance of any water shortage or natural disaster.

    Lake Mead remains less than half full. A master plan to accumulate an additional 15 million acre feet over time to keep it FULL and generating 2000 megawatts of RENEWABLE ENERGY each year needs to be encouraged. CA's I.O.U.'s could be backed to actually hold water ...


  3. @Ray -- I am not sure that I understand your calculations. Are you including fixed costs?


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