8 Mar 2011

Poll Results -- Paying for water

Hey! There's a new poll (forces for change) on the right sidebar ===>
I am willing to see the price of water rise by 50% to get:*
Reliable 29 votes
Sustainable 74 votes
Safe 40 votes
Available to everyone 38 votes

These results are interesting to me, since voters appear to put more weight on environmental uses ("sustainable," as in not robbing the environment?) than on uses that directly affect people, i.e., the taps will flow, to everyone, with drinkable water.

Note that reliable and sustainable can conflict if, for example, a dam improves reliability but destroys an ecosystem. The same may be said for "available to everyone" in the sense that people tend to use more water when they have better access, i.e., from pipes instead of a well, standpipe or truck.

I also think that these results reflect the demographics of readers; most of us take reliable and safe for granted, and we live in countries where 100% coverage is the norm. So perhaps these results reflect secondary priorities for a use (sustainability) that's was neglected in the past.

Bottom Line: The problem at hand depends on where you stand, and water management needs to reflect local priorities.

* The impact of this increase on prices of food, energy, etc. will ALWAYS be less than 50%. That's because the water content of these products is quite low by value, relative to other inputs. The idea was that higher water prices would reduce demand, making it easier to meet other priorities (reliable, sustainable, safe and omnipresent).