Comments about ‘In our opinion: Use market forces and not social shaming to conserve on water usage’

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Published: Saturday, July 26 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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American Fork, UT

Cost will encourage conservation. Same thing's going to happen with oil.

Salt Lake City, UT

A new study by the University of California system and NASA documents that the Colorado River basin is literally being sucked dry as various water users tap ground water to replace stream flow. Much of the groundwater being used is non-renewable. The ground water loss has been roughly six times greater than the losses in Lake Mead and Lake Powell.

You can just let market forces take care of this, without admitting the likely driver of this process - climate change. If those of us who believe in AGW are right, only a region wide plan can deal with this crisis. Yes, a plan. Does that give you hives? We always plan. The only question is on what level.

As you know several of the climate change models predict the desert Southwest will simply run out of water. That, and the fact that change is happening faster than any of the models predicted, should bring about some urgency. Some politicos are going to have to risk talking about global warming, perhaps to the detriment of their political careers.

Salt Lake City, UT

Also, your assumption we have only two options - market or "shaming" trivializes a very serious matter.

Omaha, NE

This sounds good.
One question if the editorial panel (or someone else) would elaborate. How does less water available actually (or how could it) drive it up in terms of a market price? Do people bid or would people bid on the water they can use?

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

If by "market forces" the Deseret News means that everyone using water for every purpose pays the same price for water, I agree. The farmer, the swimming pool, the commercial car wash, the landscaping and decorating, every business, every public utility, every government function, even the water company itself, and if every user pays with the same price structure according to volume, then I agree.

And if that can be put in place, if whistle blowers see or know of a crime being committed, they are obligated and rewarded for reporting it.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

The consequences of the "market approach"? The rich folks in St George would continue to waste water by the bucketful. A few more dollars for water means nothing to them. Meanwhile, the single mom, the struggling young couple with a baby, and the old lady on a fixed income would just go thirsty as water prices "soar."

Three cheers for the market!

liberal larry
salt lake City, utah

Although I agree with using market principles to effectively ration our scare water supply, I think that the writers of this editorial are trying to give an "off the cuff" solution to a long running, complex problem.

Maybe it would be better to have a (nonpartisan) legal scholar from one of Utah's fine universities give a more historical and nuanced analysis of our states water issues.

Poplar Grove, UT

If you want a good example of this, look at how many yards in Salt Lake have xeriscaping versus Davis County,(SLC has a lot more) I've lived in both places, Davis has a flat fee to use irrigation water outside, where SLC doesn't have irrigation access in very many places, so to water your yard is much much more expensive. Magically you don't see a ton of waste, and a lot of people that just tear out water hogs like Kentucky Bluegrass.

Sandy, UT

If we eliminate shaming what will certain members of society do to feel intellectually superior to the rest of us. Yes, making water cost sensitive is more likely to actually solve the problem, but it robs the great joy of feeling smug while looking down on those not as "enlightened."

Salt Lake City, UT

Climate change is a serious consideration that has long term implications. The short term reality of water shortage is a different issue. Confusing the two does neither problem any favors. Reality-based charging for water usage will change peoples' behavior, but there should be a tiered fee structure. Everyone should be entitled to a baseline amount at a low price and those who have lawns, pools or other high use patterns should pay a higher rate. Zeroscaping yards will become more common when the real value of water shows up on a monthly bill.

Bountiful, UT

Mark me down as one who likes food better than green lawns, clean cars, and washed driveways. It is right to protect water for food providing farmers. One tier pricing of water would drive farmers out of business, raise food prices, and harm the poor and the elderly. It is time to prioritize. The wealthy who can afford three-acre lawns must not be allowed to buy all the water they want. Market forces alone won't solve this problem.

Fruit Heights, UT

Yeah let's make water be based on supply and demand so the poor can't afford to water their lawns and maybe even not take care of basic necessities - and we therefore turn the slums into the ultra slums. I'm all about market economics but let's be realistic. Regulation is the solution here. We water our lawns too much in Utah - end of story. If this state wants to support a growing population, then we have to accept that our lawns our going to be yellow in the summer. If that bother you, than move to North Dakota.

Salt Lake City, UT

This is very serious business. You should study the Mormon pioneers' use of water as a common resource before you glibly offer a straight market solution.

Thid Barker
Victor, ID

We read in scripture that God sometimes implemented droughts to humble and motivate prideful and arrogant people to repentance! Do you suppose??..naaa couldn't be that now, could it?

one old man
Ogden, UT

Irony Guy at 7:21 nailed it. So did Ultra Bob, just before Irony.

Water is the world's next oil crisis.

Salt Lake City, UT

re: Linus

"Mark me down as one who likes food better than green lawns, clean cars, and washed driveways... It is time to prioritize. The wealthy who can afford three-acre lawns must not be allowed to buy all the water they want."

Agreed. It reminds of a few summers ago when they 'encouraged' Joe Average to conserve but the golf courses were being watered every day.

Provo, UT

Utah's water prices have been set at least 3x too low across the board.

As I once said in another forum:

When will politicians realize that prices are the way to allocate scarce resources?

Whether it's Soviet bread queues, 1970s US oil ration lines, or Governor Herbert putting up billboards asking people to play nice with the water, attempts to allocate scarce resources by other means have failed miserably. Politicians keep wanting to try everything but the one thing that makes sense.

We want people to waste less water? Raise the price of water until people consume sufficiently less to allow the reservoirs to fill again. We can give people this strong incentive without causing an increase in median cost of living- for instance, by reducing and adjusting taxes.

Provo, UT

Those who complain that higher water costs would hurt vulnerable groups are missing the picture.

Subsidizing water waste now at the cost of Utah's future is not the way to protect the poor.

Unrealistically cheap water pricing is an extremely ineffective way to address poverty (and other concerns e.g. agriculture). It only spares the poor a tiny amount of money each month while giving everyone regardless of income the wrong incentives regarding water.

We have much better ways we can address those problems. Adjust taxes and programs to meet needs rather than encouraging people to make stupid choices with their water by not charging a price that reflects the real costs of water use.

Casa Grande, AZ

Raising everyone's water bill by 50% won't keep the rich from using a lot of water on those golf courses and home side lakes.

It will make life just more miserable for those just getting by now. Let the poor only take one shower a week I guess to solve everyone's problem. That's the best part about being rich.


I lived in LA in the 80's--early 90's during a water shortage. We were required to reduce water usage by 20%. Violations for not limiting water usage began with hefty fines to having a water restricter device installed on your water line. Low flow shower heads were mandatory on any new construction or when buying/selling a house. Low-flow toilets and the "if it's yellow it is mellow, if it is brown, flush it down" became standard. Washing cars and watering landscape during daylight hours was a no-no.

Today, each water district and local municipality set their own water restrictions, penalties etc.

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