6 Aug 2010

Speed blogging

  • Potential large- and small-scale irrigation projects in Africa [pdf]. I favor the latter.

  • An excellent article (I had some influence on its content :)
    Imagine that you work for a California water agency. You derive most of your revenue from the sale of water. But the state also mandates that you encourage conservation with rebate programs and consumer education. What will happen if you are able to cut demand by 30 percent or 40 percent? You may lose your job..


    So water agencies administer all sorts of conservation programs, but they make sure that the programs will have a limited impact. They keep prices low. They put onerous restrictions on rebate programs. They produce brochures touting conservation but secretly hope that consumers won’t take them too seriously.
  • Poor people use more water than others in Milwalkee. Why? They cannot afford better plumbing features, are often renting (not paying for it), and live in older buildings. Decreasing block rates make it worse -- by making conservation pricing even more expensive for water wasters -- but better pricing could upgrade fixtures, lower consumption and still be fair.

  • Public subsidies for bad power projects means wasted money and expensive energy.
Hattips to BP, DR and SS


  1. Tim DeRoche's article on conflicts of interest in water agencies is nicely done. Thanks.

    If the people in these agencies could move safely to another agency when the water agency was downsized, would that mobility remove one conflict of interest?

  2. On a related topic, are certain government agencies counter cyclical in their economic behavior because when the economy is bad, the politicians do not have time to pay attention to the agency (there are too many other things to do) and so an agency that would be downsized in good times is not downsized in bad times?

    Where would such behavior fit into traditional economics?

  3. Thanks for posting my article "Ghosts Haunt Brown?" at CalWatchDog.com. However, a correction is in order. The Tim Quinn of MWD mentioned in the article is not the same Tim Quinn that was a campaign consultant for Jerry Brown. This correction is minor and does not change the fact that former Governor Brown planned the Bottle Rock Geothermal Power Plant as a green legacy of his administration. Nor does this correction change the facts that MWD picked up the tab for paying for this failed power plant. The Bottle Rock Plant does not get supplemental water from the Santa Rosa Recycled Water Pipeline although the other geothermal power plants in the Geysers area do.


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