Living in a state with a historic drought that is now going on year four we are bombarded by new information every day. Many receive a notices in the mail from their local governments letting them know about new and upcoming water restrictions. These letters and notices are great pieces of motivation and information for California residents, but do they really do anything?
In one of our earlier blog postings we touched on behavior modification and how that can make a difference when conserving energy, but can the same be said for water? Would behavior modification solve our drought wows or does California need to look into other options such as going to tiered water rates.
Many Californians are making an argument to move to tiered water rates, since our water future is in dyer straights. Sadly those advocating for this change face an up hill battle, since the state has proposition 218 that challenges this type of "cost of service." Proposition 218 was passed in 1996 and states that municipalities cannot impose fees for services that exceed the actual cost of the item.
This proposition was challenged this April when San Juan Capistrano tried to impose a four-tiered water rate system. But when it went for approval a California appellate court ruled that imposing such a system was unconstitutional. The courts reasoning was allocating a higher cost to a higher user for means of conservation is against the law, but if you were to charge a higher price to a higher user only based on usage that would be just fine.
As we sit in what is now titled a "drought emergency" many say we should implement the tiered water rates under the premise of higher users pay higher prices and not get hung up on the word conservation. Here at SJVCEO we truly believe in the word conservation, since it encompasses management and protection of our environment and natural resources. But....when it comes to natural resources being depleted because of the word we can let it slide for once.
As a fellow Californian I believe that we should do all that we can to save water. Maybe having higher users pay a higher rate will force those users to make a change if they don't like their bills. Which I think in laments terms means forced behavior modification.
But, every household will have its own view on how and what should be done to help with the drought in California. Let your household decide what is best when it comes to conserving water, but remember to keep saving!
"Ruling Forces California Water Districts to Review Water Rate," Apr. 21, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/california-court-ruling-limit-drought-fighting-tools-30464841
"Water Rates Under Prop. 218," Apr., 24, 2015, http://www.hjta.org/propositions/proposition-218/water-rates-under-proposition-218/