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Letter to the Echo about the Water Crisis (published 26Nov2002) PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 16 February 2003 16:43
I've just returned from California where I was attending three environment conferences. Most of California also has to deal with water shortages - just like Byron Shire - popular areas have been over-developed, and so of course run into problems in dry years.

But... several councils there seem to have a much better way of dealing with water shortages than our 'Level x' restrictions and consequent arguing over who is, or is not, using a hose. To put it simply they presume that every resident of the county has an entitlement to a certain amount of water at a fair price. Water up to that amount - say 100 litres per day - is priced reasonably, as a basic need, but once you go over 100 litres per person per day you pay on a sliding scale, for example twice as much per litre above 100 litres, four times as much per litre above 200 litres and so on.

The system really seems to work - and it provides a direct financial incentive to people to install water saving devices, or shower with a friend. It also allows people to make choices, for example under our system it is perfectly legal at teh moment for me to take multiple baths and run many washloads but my vegies are dying because I'm not allowed to use my water efficient irrigation system.

If it was applied at teh same level to approved tourist beds, then it would support those tourist establishments that act responsibly while penalising those that couldn't care less about the shortage.

Just an idea ..... Mitra