12 Jan 2010

Speed blogging

  • San Diego apartment owners want water submeters on apartments; submeters will allow them to charge tenants for water consumption, lowering owners' water bills (shifting responsibility) AND lowering their cost of compliance with conservation regulations (because a drop in demand saves more water than conservation gear). Good.

  • Beijing has water shortages so they are raising prices. Good.

  • In 2004, Tom Birmingham said that permanent crops were a good idea, since "our water supply has become more stable and dependable in recent years. Planting vineyards and orchards requires confidence that the water these crops require will be available well into the future." Whoops. That was a mistake, and not just because of the drought, but also because of Westland's junior water contracts.

  • EROWI (energy return on water invested): ethanol makes a poor showing, per usual.

  • Water drops on leaves inspire wind turbine coatings that de-ice themselves.

  • Irrigating with saltwater.

I recommend all of these:
  • Applications are now being considered for 17 Enviropreneur Institute fellowships sponsored by the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). This annual, two-week training for conservationists will be held in Bozeman, Montana, from June 27 - July 9, 2010. Includes $2,500 fellowship honorarium paid to all participants.

  • The 2010 FEEM Summer School on Climate Change Negotiations will take place from the 4th to the 10th of July in Venice. Apply.

  • "The next Ronald Coase Institute workshop on institutional analysis, May 2010 in Moscow, Russia." Application deadline 25 Jan; expensive for US students; cheap for students from LDCs.
Hattips to SB, JH, DR and DW


  1. Submetering or separately billing for water through allocation also sends price signals to residents. Over the past decade as the practice has penetrated the apartment market, more residents expect to pay for utilities outside of base rent. Without the price signal, behavior and consumption will not change. California is one of the few states that does not have a comprehensive regulatory framework for this utility billing practice, unfortunately.

  2. "EROWI (energy return on water invested): ethanol makes a poor showing, per usual."

    CORN ethanol makes a poor showing, you mean. There are other types of ethanol out there, most of which are much more efficient than corn ethanol. But if everyone shuns all ethanol because they don't see value in corn ethanol, these other types of ethanol may never get a chance to get off the ground.

    Re: Irrigating with saltwater, I am a little skeptical of the method (how well would it work with extremely silty water, for instance), but boy if it can work, what an incredibly fantastic advancement it would be. I will definitely keep my eye on this one.

    I have always thought that it is rather shortsighted to ignore that "other 97%" of earth's water supply and instead insist on figuring out how to support a growing world's population well into the future on just the 1% of our planet's water that is fresh and usable.

  3. RE: irrigating with saltwater - "The farmer will occasionally have to flush the pipes to clean out salt crystals and dirt, but Tonkin says this is a simple process."

    A simple process he says? So the buildup will just wash right off with a quick flush? And what does the farmer do with the effluent from the flushing process? My guess would be dump it back in whatever body of water the saltwater originally came from, but what hoops would he/she need to jump through first.

    Whenever someone is trying to sell you something and they say the maintenance is simple, without elaborating, you need to be suspicious.

  4. When Birmingham said that in '04, he wasn't making a mistake. He was signaling a strategy to his constituents. This was three years after the Bay-Delta pumping was increased, and one year after record salmon numbers. He knew that if his farmers had heavy investments, they'd be all over any changes to the system.

    I'm not accusing him of prognostication, but of shoring up his position at the time.


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