Taking water conservation seriously

April 9, 2009 § 1 Comment

Starts at home.  At the water meter.  LA City staff proposed a tiered water rating system, in which if a user exceeds a certain volume of water consumption, they go up to a higher rate for the additional water use – and City Council shot it down.  Unanimously.  This time (sounds likely they’ll be another round).

LA Observed thought this deserved attention, and so do I.  Maybe the Times will report on it tomorrow

LA Council rejects water pressure

While I am a supporter of tiered water rating, there’s also an equity issue – how do you fairly charge by household when some households have 1 person and others have 4 or more?  We can come up with nonintrusive but potentially unfair (as above) methods with flat water tiers (you consume over X gallons total, you go up to the next rate) or we move into some complicated and potentially intrusive methods, counting members of households etc and allocating a base volume from that (I just made that method up, btw, as an example of an intrusive but fair way to do that.  I don’t know what was actually proposed by the City).  

What do you think?  (and please don’t say desal!)

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§ One Response to Taking water conservation seriously

  • Joe Linton says:

    Conservation is a huge conversation… and I certainly don’t have all the answers… but here a few half-baked thoughts:

    – Tiered pricing, with some sort of “lifeline” coverage for folks truly in need, seems to me to be needed. Folks who use a lot of water should feel some financial incentive to conserve.

    – Proactive measures to promote conservation (low-flush toilets, washing machine rebates, fixing leaks, etc.) should be included. Probably even targeting folks with high bills. This could include education/outreach, and even audits for leaks, etc. It might be, to some extent, subcontracted out to community/environmental non-profits…

    – There could be some variances for size of families, though it’s probably something that the consumer would need to request.

    – Incentives should include all users – governmental (schools, public agencies, city facilities, etc.), business, and residential.

    – Lastly, it’s a difficult political climate to implement these policies. After electrical deregulation, privatization, then black-outs, there was some distrust of utilities proclaiming shortages. The LA Dept of Water and Power (DWP) is perceived as lacking openness and lacking responsiveness to public and environmental inclinations (evidenced by the recent demise of Measure B)… so there needs to be trust re-built if the DWP is to be successful in persuading the public to get on-board with environmental measures.
    Perhaps (danger: off the top of my head thought), the DWP could propose a tiered structure that is revenue-neutral (maybe this proposal already is billed that way – not sure), and could guarantee that by some sort of ironclad legally-binding promise that any surplus revenue would be returned to some sort of community benefits program…

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