22 Jul 2015

Water Smarts: pricing, regulation and water sources

There are VERY FEW people following the "Water Smarts" learning campaign. This is disappointing to me, because I am pretty sure that MOST readers of this blog do not know as much as they should about their local water conditions. Worse, there are FAR MORE people who don't read the blog (or know this stuff) because they don't care.

If "education is the solution" then we are going to have trouble because nobody is in class!

In this post, I will comment on some "closed" activities and invite you to ongoing and new activities.

NB: Questions/activities are based on chapters from Living with Water Scarcity, and you can download the 2015 WaterSmarts Calendar here.
  • March: How much do you pay? (Chapter 2)
    One person filled this in with data from Colombia. The interesting points are (1) the tariff (US$2.55/m3, combined water and sewer) includes a cross-subsidy from higher- to lower income families and (2) that this family used roughly 250lcd (65gcd), which is less than California's (poorly measured) average of 88gcd. If you want more data, read my paper on global water tariffs [pdf] or this post on low charges in Europe's fiscally mismanaged countries
  • April: Who's your regulator? (Chapter 3)
    From Colombia, I learned that the regulator targets full cost recovery with a cross subsidy from rich to poor. This method is sound in terms of efficiency as well as equity. It is not found in many countries where, for example, full costs are not recovered (deferred maintenance, cheap energy, pollution discharges) or the poor are left without service. I'm guessing that the US and Canada deliver service quality on par with southern Europe. This paper describes how Southern California managers (but true for managers in the West) underprice their systems, thereby screwing current customers for new development. This beautiful map app offers data on wastewater coverage and treatment (yay Netherlands!)
If you want to improve future posts (giving me more material to work with), then PLEASE take 10-20 minutes to answer questions on these topics:
Dates for July: Americans celebrate the foundation of the EPA and NOAA (by Nixon!), English and New Yorkers celebrate the opening of their important canals, Greece opened its Corinth Canal (not before bankrupting a few), and several other anniversaries passed. Check it out!