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Bloggers discuss water pricing, the energy-water nexus, drought, and past project proposals

In this week’s roundup, bloggers look at pricing and fees, explore the addition of climate change to the energy-water nexus, the western drought, and revisit the ill-fated San Francisco Bay


Water Pricing

Time for a Serious Policy on Water Pricing
One water policy tool that has yet to be embraced in the US is increasing the price of water, but we need to start now, says Chris Farrell in Bloomberg Businessweek.  Citing University of Arizona law professor Robert Glennon, he argues that it would be easy to set aside a baseline amount of water as a human right and then increase prices for the rest, creating incentives for efficient use and water markets.  Farrell points to multinational corporations as a potential advocate for higher pricing, since they have a vested interest in access to water and have shown a willingness to participate in conservation efforts.

State-Level “Water Resource Fees”
John Fleck discusses a 2003 proposal in New Mexico for a “water resource fee,” which would have been a flat per-acre foot surcharge.  Fleck notes that there is some renewed chatter about the concept, because the California water plan floats the idea as a possible future revenue source.


Energy-Water Nexus

Climate Change: A New Energy-Water Nexus for Emission Trading
Rodney T. Smith, Ph.D. of the Hydrowonk Blog reflects on comments made by California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon regarding the link between climate change and the state’s drought and the need to promote green energy in the water sector. Smith sees this as a new element of the “water-energy nexus,” which has traditionally meant that water requires a great deal of energy to produce and is also a major component of energy production.  While he argues that the connection between climate change and the current drought is debatable, Smith urges the industry to avoid getting bogged down in arguments and take advantage of the opportunities of a green energy transition.  Specifically, reducing carbon emissions could allow the water industry to sell credits on the state cap-and-trade market, bringing in new revenue.



Oklahoma and California: Similar Droughts, Similar Challenges
Writing for the Hydrowonk Blog, Jeff Simonetti compares the drought and responses in California and Oklahoma.  Oklahoma faced severe drought for much of the period between 2010 and 2013, and while rainfall has ticked up since then, reservoirs are still exceptionally low.  Given the different political compositions of the two states, Simonetti expected Oklahoma to eschew the sorts of “progressive” policy responses California is working toward, such as low-water farming, groundwater management, water reuse, green infrastructure, and education.  However, Oklahoma’s Water for 2060 Act contains these and many more provisions, making the responses quite similar.

These Maps of Water Use Show Why the Western US is in Trouble
Brad Plumer of highlights four key graphics from the Hamilton Project’s recent policy primer on water.  The images show that western per capita water use is considerably higher than other parts of the country, agriculture accounts for most water use, states with relatively little water are growing very quickly, and many of the driest cities have the cheapest water.


Revisiting the Past

Hey, California!  Resurrect the Reber Plan to Solve those Pesky Water Shortages!
WaterWired’s Michael Campana takes a look back at the San Francisco Bay Project, dubbed “Reber Plan” for its main proponent, producer and engineer John Reber.  The Reber Plan, proposed in the 1940s, would have constructed two giant dams in San Francisco Bay, creating freshwater basins and setting the stage for roadways and military installations.  The plan was ultimately doomed by an Army Corps of Engineers study that found the project would fail to provide fresh water.


Written by Stratecon Staff