There is a call for communities and municipalities to charge a higher rate to consumers who use the greatest amount of water.
Some places around the world are doing a much better job of conserving water than the United States, where much of the western territory is undergoing some level of drought conditions.
In a recent story about the sorry state of water usage and depletion in the United States, a website named Greenbuilder.com pointed to the water conservation efforts in Singapore.
One of the most densely populated cities in the world, Singapore has developed a water collection infrastructure, a network of canals, drains, rivers, storm-collection ponds and reservoirs, that manage to capture 90 percent of the nation’s rainwater. That water is then filtered through an advanced system that provides 30 percent of the nation’s water supply. With further efforts towards conservation, it is believed the system will eventually supply 55 percent of future water demand.
Singapore sits on the southern end of the Malay Peninsula, and is surrounded by ocean water. Singapore has two seawater reverse osmosis plants that produce 100 million gallons of usable, drinkable water each day, taking care of another 25 percent of the country’s needs.
In the United States, while conservation efforts come nowhere near the ones Singapore has attained, we are learning to share our water, for a price.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is offering to buy 100,000 acre-feet of water from the Sacramento Valley for $700 per acre-foot. A previous purchase from 2010, an earlier drought year, went for between $244 and $400 per acre-foot. A spokesman for the MWD said “that’s where the water is available.” The water district plans to spend up to $71 million to buy water from nine other districts in the area.
An acre-foot is almost 326,000 gallons of water, which is considered enough to support only two households for a year. Each acre foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre of land with a foot of water.
In the Sacramento area, farmers have allocations of water, and can sell them for more than they can make by farming. It is estimated a rice farmer in the Sacramento Valley can make $900 an acre after costs, and can make $2,100 by selling the water they would use to irrigate the land used to grow the rice.
Some communities are now considering block pricing of water, which would raise rates based on consumption, as well as giving credits to homeowners who use proven conservation techniques.
But there is also a call to renovate the cost parameters for water provided to homeowners. Simply put, communities can no longer just give water away.
"In the 21st century, for us to really manage water, we need to understand the economics of water. We have to understand the tools, the pricing, the viability of cost sharing and diversifying our supply," said Sharlene Leurig, a water financing expert for Ceres, to the Deseret News of Salt Lake City, Utah. "Those things are the foundation of what will create a financially resilient system in the 21st century, not just engineering."
Water experts from most Western states gathered in Park City, Utah, recently to discuss plans for water usage and distribution in the west. Park City was chosen because it actually ran out of water three years ago and was required to import 2,900 acre-feet of water for $45 million for local homes and farms.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.