Demand Management, Privatization, Water Markets, and Efficient Water Allocation in Our Cities
When water is plentiful, we tend to take it for granted and overuse it. Once water becomes scarce, our neglect changes to pleas for new supplies. In other words, when water demands exceed the supply at existing low prices, shortages emerge and we appeal for an increase in supply. Yet expanding domestic water supplies has become much more difficult and expensive. This is because we have already developed the low cost sources of supply and face growing environmental constraints due, in part, to our increased awareness of the many instream services undeveloped water resources provide. The cost of developing new sources includes both the explicit financial cost of infrastructure and the opportunity cost of using water consumptively, rather than for instream or nonconsumptive services. Although nonconsumptive uses, by definition, do not involve water consumption, they can change the timing and location of water flows (hydropower), increase water temperature (cooling), or pollute (boating) the water. In addition, these instream (or nonconsumptive services) such as sewage dilution, recreation, and a healthy aquatic habitat may require increased water supplies. Balancing all these demands is a challenge and requires us to recognize that our supplies of clean, fresh water resources are quite limited. Simply increasing the supply is no longer the easy option. We must now emphasize using the water we have more wisely.
KeywordsNonpoint Source Water User Private Firm Urban Water Water Utility
I would like to thank Larry Baker and Frances Homans for their very helpful comments on an earlier draft of this chapter.
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