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Water scarcity LQD: cultural failures and policy achievements

by MillMan Sat Dec 1st, 2007 at 11:29:41 PM EST

Searching for information on the Atlanta water crisis, which gets very little media attention, much less the numerical analysis that this issue cries out for, I came across a couple of gems.

I found this blog which looks to be an excellent news aggregator.

First this not so surprising bit:

DeKalb County might not require retrofitting after all

We mentioned a few weeks ago that DeKalb County was planning on requiring all homes build before 1993 to be retrofitted with low-flow toilets and shower heads before they could be resold.  According to the Freshloaf Blog (whose source was a press release by the Atlanta Board of Realtors), "the lobbying group inundated commissioners with phone calls opposing the DeKalb ordinance." The realtors fear that this ordinance would negatively impact the real estate market in the county.

If passed, this ordinance could save the county about 3.5 million gallons of water per day.  The cost to retrofit most homes would typically be less than $450 -- money which would be recouped within about three years from lower water bills.

The commissioners will vote on the ordinance on Wednesday, December 5th.

As opposed to the minor price deflation that will occur in the real estate market when the city no longer has access to water. You know, that stuff you'll die without in about 48 hours?

I'm certainly not shocked by this suicidal move. The only group of "professionals" on this planet with smaller reality fields are sports agents, which Europeans may or may not be familiar with. I don't know how soccer football players have their contracts negotiated.

A bit further down the page comes a link to this very interesting story:

In Vegas, wasting water is a sin

LAS VEGAS -- Outside the Bellagio casino, tourists stare at fountains thrusting water into the sky as Elvis sings "Viva Las Vegas." Meanwhile, off the Strip, residents dig up their lawns to save water -- and get paid for it.

That's the paradox in this desert town where water lured people thousands of years before casino-constructed wonders such as the canals of the Venetian, the shark reef of Mandalay Bay and the fountains of the Bellagio.

By the 1800s, a life-sustaining spring on the Old Spanish Trail had inspired travelers to label this spot Las Vegas, "the meadows." Then in 1935, the Hoover Dam opened on the Colorado River, creating what is now Lake Mead. The region seemed guaranteed a reliable flow of water as far into the future as anyone could see.

But the original spring dried up 45 years ago, and now Lake Mead is in serious trouble. A seven-year drought has the 157,000-acre reservoir looking as if someone pulled the plug, leaving a waterline 100 feet high that locals labeled "the bathtub ring."


Conservation efforts saved Southern Nevada 18 billion gallons of water annually from 2002 to 2006 -- a 20 percent reduction during a period when nearly 330,000 more residents moved in and 40 million tourists visited. Nevadans have cut five billion gallons a year just on the turf they've dug up since 2003, when the Southern Nevada Water Authority started paying people $1 a square foot to get rid of their grass so they wouldn't have to water it. The 26 golf clubs alone tore out 472 acres, the equivalent of five 18-hole courses. The areas where play takes place -- the rough, the fairway and the green -- are still grass. Other parts of the course feature drought-tolerant plants, many of them desert natives.

Doug Bennett, who moved to Vegas from New Mexico about the time the drought started in 2000, is the water authority's manager of conservation. He settled into a Las Vegas neighborhood of lush grass and immediately got rid of his.

"If the only time people walk on that lawn they're pushing a mower, it's not functional," he said.


"You sure as hell should pay more for water if you're moving to an area with limited water resources," said Rutledge, who's not on the panel. "There are people in this valley who don't care how much water they use. Those are the people who should have to pay."

Policy makers in Las Vegas that understand ecological limits and how to use the carrot and the stick properly? This is me having a seizure on a Saturday night. If only we had such people in "enlightened" California. Instead Marin county looks into desalination plants so we can keep up our little English-looking fiefdoms.

Also check out this article on the American west's water future if you haven't already.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Dec 2nd, 2007 at 12:34:34 AM EST
So much good material on that blog. Quoted again by the author from another article in the AJC:

Government agencies, however, have calculated that thermoelectric plants with once-through cooling use an average of 25 gallons of water to produce one kilowatt hour of power. The average Georgia household burns 1,100 kilowatt hours of electricity a month. That translates to about 27,000 gallons of water. By comparison, a family of four goes through about 9,000 gallons a month for household uses such as washing clothes, flushing toilets and showering.

Peak everything indeed.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Dec 2nd, 2007 at 01:09:18 AM EST
and although most of that water doesn't leave the system, if the water itself is not available, the plant shuts down.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Dec 2nd, 2007 at 01:13:58 AM EST
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