Published: Saturday, July 26 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT
Cost will encourage conservation. Same thing's going to happen with oil.
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.
Also, your assumption we have only two options - market or "shaming"
trivializes a very serious matter.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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
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?
Irony Guy at 7:21 nailed it. So did Ultra Bob, just before Irony.Water is the world's next oil crisis.
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.
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.
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.
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.
DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.— About comments