Hi, I'm wondering what you think of AB 1881 (requiring California towns to adopt a water conservation ordinance by Jan 1 2010), and what you think is the best market-oriented response to it.I have a few reactions:
The default ordinance imposes elaborate irrigation guidelines and landscape planning requirements on any development significant enough to require a permit.
In my town I'm proposing an alternative of self-water-budgeting plus fees for higher-than-average use and penalties for exceeding your own water budget:
33 pages of irrigation rules would become just this:
Feedback and better ideas are welcome. Advocates of market-based water policy in California should cooperate in developing a best-practices response to AB 1881's onerous regulatory requirements.
- Project applicant estimates how much water s/he will purchase in the first 12 months.
- If Estimate > average usage in our town (500 units), applicant pays $3 for every unit above that average.
- After the 12 months, homeowner documents how many units s/he actually purchased.
- If Actual > Estimate, homeowner pays $6 for every unit above Estimate.
- If Actual < Estimate, homeowner is refunded $1 for every unit below Estimate.
- On point (2), users should pay for going above the actual average usage in the next year. "Average" should also be defined per capita. A formula with per capita & per acre (like IRWD's water budgets) would be more acceptable for big landowners, but also give "equal" rights to water for landscaping. I am not a fan of that.
- Wait. When does the homeowner pay the $3/unit extra in (2)? As a deposit against future use? If so, the "average" would be for past use.
- There's no need for number (3), since the water utility can do that accounting.
- If you want to REALLY turn down the screws, publish everyone's budget vs. actual. Shame can be a great motivator.