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The 90 Day Plan

Friday, November 20, 2009

Water Conservation = Rate Increase

Supply and Demand 101

Supply goes up, demand goes down and price goes down.

Demand goes up, supply goes down, price goes up.

Unless you are guaranteed to have your bills paid by your bylaws.  Then if you conserve 10%, demand goes down, supply goes up and price goes up.  Maybe we're oversimplifying, but that's what happens when San Diego residents decreased their consumption by 9.5% and are faced with a rate increase of 7.5%, and in some areas as much as 19.6%.

Since the SDCWA and MWD revenues are derived from water rates, conservation = increased water rates. Meanwhile, there is a huge emphasis on storage, but San Diego is in a drought and the reservoirs are half full. Why do we need more storage? To survive the drought years?

Or to bank the water at today's rates to be resold at higher prices in the future?

How about this as a solution... instead of subsidizing desal at $350 million over the next 25 years... the MWD could subsidize homeowners for the installation of graywater systems and rainwater harvesting tanks to help decrease the load on the system.

Greywater can easily reduce your water use by 20% and helps to replenish the aquifers and retain soil. Properly landscaped lawns can help trap rainwater and decrease the load on the storm water system.

Rainwater harvesting with $350 million in subsidies could provide 350,000 homes with 1000 gallon tanks. With just 1 inch of rain on 1 thousand sq. ft. of roof, you can capture 600 gallons. With an average rainfall of ten inches/yr, you could refill that tank around 6x. That water can be used for irrigation and as an emergency cistern if the local water main goes out for a few days.

The average citizen uses around 150 gallons/day. Rainwater capture will not offset that use entirely in our arid desert climate, but it will help offset our consumption. Nearly 20% of electricity in California is used to move water from the delta to So Cal, so the water and electricity utilities are closely linked. Use less water, use less electricity, and we will consume less fossil fuels and produce less CO2.

Conservation and reuse are keys for a sustainable future.  Our editors would like to see conservation decoupled from water rate increases to help provide an incentive to use less in the future, and more localized solutions with incentives geared toward helping individuals conserve water.

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