29 Apr 2015

Water incentives in jails

Andrew Boryski sent me an email after my Reddit AMA with some interesting details on water use abuse in California jails:
In 2013 I was convicted of a white collar crime and spent 23 days in LA County jails before I was able to get the situation sorted.

During that time I saw the biggest waste of water in California. It happened at all three facilities I was incarcerated in.

California Wayside penitentiary was the worst. There are no regulatory values on the boilers so in order for the showers to be bearable temperature during the day, inmates are forced to run the water in the sinks or a shower all day so that it depletes the hot water.

I was in two different sets of barracks both with the same problem, I was in north I think there was about 16 sets of barracks total. Poor maintenance all around, toilets leak and ran all night. All sorts of things, but the simple values on the boiler to regulate hot water would be the biggest thing.

Honestly all day the sink would run, think like a big industrial wash sink. In twin towers downtown LA they had to put us in the gym area for a full day to try and fix a shower that would not turn off. The humidity was crazy in this big windowed locked room that I would have to say 60 or so inmates where housed in.

They never did get the shower fixed just turned it to a slower trickle.
Although I am not surprised to find that prisoners (and guards) would waste water and energy that they did not have to pay for, I was shocked to see the magnitude of the waste.

Indeed, this example reminds me of a recent story: "The Number One Worst Polluter on Earth Is... The U.S. Federal Government." Why? Incentives? Governments often excuse themselves from following rules. When they do follow them, they are not necessarily careful, since the cost of waste falls on taxpayers.

Bottom Line: All people and organizations should pay the price of their water use. If they don't then they will waste YOUR water -- and YOUR money!

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