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Municipal/regional water supply discussion


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#1 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 06:27 PM

You know, everytime I see that Nils Jensen on TV he is talking about water conservation. It's bullshit.

Read this:

Market alternative to water rationing
Email Print Normal font Large font Steve Burrell
September 19, 2006
Page 1 of 3 | Single page
THE BIG PICTURE

Other related coverage
Real shortage is in brains, not water
Advertisement
AdvertisementHERE'S an idea to fix city road congestion: those with odd-numbered licence plates can drive only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. The evens can have Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.

And to avoid electricity blackouts, it will be candles and kerosene lamps only from eight to midnight.

Dumb ideas?

Think you'd crucify any politician who suggested them?

So why do we happily accept a similar approach when it comes to Australia's urban "water crisis"?

The emphasis of governments has long been been on encouraging - or forcing - consumers to save water, rather than new sources of supply.

Whether it's advertising campaigns urging shorter showers, restrictions on when you can hose the garden or "water police" prowling suburbia, they have framed the issue on the assumption that water is, and will always be, scarce, and therefore must be rationed.

As the economists would put it, they have largely concentrated on the demand side of the problem, rather than the supply side.

But as a new paper from the Business Council of Australia points out, there is no real need to accept our fate as the land of unending water restrictions.

"Australia's urban water shortages reflect a failure of policy and planning," it says. "There is nothing 'natural' about it.

"Australian consumers appear to have been educated to believe a myth: that water is in a state of permanent shortage rather than a resource that is poorly allocated and managed.

"Governments have allowed myths of unavoidable water scarcity to hide not only the pressing need for our water supply system to be fixed but the many options available to address the problem."

There is no doubt that shortages exist. Dam levels in virtually all urban areas are close to critical and growth is adding to the pressure. Sydney is consuming water faster than it can sustain supply, Brisbane's dams are below 30 per cent capacity and provincial cities such as Toowoomba and Goulburn are in severe crisis.

But there is also no doubt that imposing greater and greater restrictions on demand is not a long-term solution if the economy and populations are to keep growing. And it is clear that a range of scarcely used possibilities exist to boost supply, including piping water from rural areas to the cities, better use of stormwater, fixing leaking pipes, recycling and desalination.

At base, it's an issue of price. As the Prime Minister's junior minister for water, Malcolm Turnbull, puts it: "Water is not a finite resource … we can have as much water as we are prepared to pay for."

The root cause of the "shortage" is that not enough new supply is being called forth. This flows from artificially low prices for water, which have made alternatives sources of supply uneconomic. As the BCA points out, in Australia, one of the driest continents, water prices are half those of Europe.

"Most water experts agree that by the time current water prices are increased by 50 per cent to 100 per cent [from their current 41c-$1.50 per kilolitre] a range of new supply options become economically viable," the paper says.

Adding to the problem have been barriers to entry for private sector suppliers, as well as a politically driven reluctance to consider some alternative technologies such as recycling.

The politics of water has seen successive governments shy away from market-based solutions, leaving it lagging behind reforms in energy, rail, road and ports.

The BCA's solution is to move on from physically restricting water use and to let markets do their work.

It has many parallels with reforms that have already occurred in electricity, involving market pricing, more competition and private ownership.

It would mean properly functioning urban (and rural) water markets, with pricing that reflects actual consumer use and the real cost of supply - not unlike the way electricity prices were deregulated.

This would not only bring forward more supply but direct water to its most economically efficient uses. (Ironically, allowing prices to reach their true level would also be the most effective way to encourage users to conserve water.)

Reform would include "disaggregation" of water utilities into their monopoly bulk supply and competitive local supply and retail functions, as has occurred in electricity and rail.

There could also be "horizontal disaggregation" - making bulk water suppliers to cities distinct competitive businesses, akin to the way the old state-owned monopoly of baseload electricity generators in Victoria was split up.

These changes would also require effective access regimes for pipes and other monopoly infrastructure and a consistent national regulatory framework.

It would also involve removing barriers to water trading between rural and urban areas, in the same way that electricity is now traded across state borders. This would provide cost-effective water for most cities (rural water could be transferred without significant new infrastructure for all capitals except Sydney) and also allow farmers to make a greater economic returns.

Regulatory and political impediments to recycling of stormwater and sewerage would be removed, as well as revamping the inefficient institutional structure of the sector.

There are political problems, including overcoming the somewhat irrational prejudices among voters about private ownership of water supplies and recycling. The recent failed referendum on recycling in Toowoomba and the row over transferring water from the Shoalhaven to Sydney are just two examples of these obstacles.

The social impact of higher water prices on low-income earners and other adjustment costs must also be addressed.

But this forbidden frontier of reform must be confronted. Australia's broken water system is one of its biggest economic problems. What is needed is co-operation between State and Federal Governments, political courage and some real leadership.

While the National Water Initiative has made some limited progress on rural water, urban water issues also need to be elevated to a core part of the Council of Australian Governments agenda, to push along a clear plan of national reform.

And the leadership for that should come from the Prime Minister himself.

And read this:

Real shortage is in brains, not water
Email Print Normal font Large font Stephanie Peatling
September 18, 2006

Advertisement
AdvertisementTHE economy is losing $9 billion a year because poor planning has left it without an adequate strategy for future water supply sources, a report to be released today says.

Water trading should be immediately introduced, the price of water should better reflect its value and all sources of water should be considered, says the report, by the Business Council of Australia.

"Our water supply problems are man-made due to poor planning and management that is turning a sufficient supply of water at the source to scarcity for end users," the council's chief executive, Katie Lahey, said.

"Unavoidable water scarcity is one of Australia's greatest myths … It is true that water is scarce in parts of the country and rainfall is declining but it is our water system, not the amount of water available for potential use, that is the real problem."

The report criticises state governments for relying on water restrictions instead of investigating alternative sources of water such as desalination or large-scale recycling.

"Australians would not tolerate being asked to continually burn candles at night to avoid widespread blackouts, so we should not accept a water supply system that requires 80 per cent of Australians to endure ever harsher water restrictions," Ms Lahey said.

Unless serious changes to water policy were made, the economy would suffer, the report warns. Private companies should be used to open up new water sources rather than relying on the existing water utilities, many of which are struggling with ageing infrastructure.

Pricing also needs to be reexamined, the report says, suggesting a national review to investigate the possibility for a more consistent, national approach to the cost of water.

The report calls for more efficient use of water for farming, particularly in irrigated agriculture, and says the introduction of a water trading market would allow water to be bought by people who need it most.

The parliamentary secretary with responsibility for water, Malcolm Turnbull, said: "It makes no more sense to have long-term rationing of water in our large coastal cities than it does to have long-term rationing of electricity. We can, whether through recycling or desalination, make as much water as we need.

"We have to rank the various sources of additional water on an economic cost basis and recognise that some methods of saving or creating water will be much more expensive than others."

The Opposition's water spokesman, Anthony Albanese, welcomed the council's report.

"Part of the solution has to be an increase in water recycling and our national target of 30 per cent by 2015 is an initiative that the Federal Government should follow if it's serious," he said.
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#2 G-Man

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 06:45 PM

We waste so much water in North America I see no reason we can't teach oursleves to live with less even if don't need to. Think of it as an oil resevoir for the future when we can start selling it for a similar price as oil. Oh wait it already costs more by the bottle then gas.

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#3 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 06:59 PM

We waste so much water in North America I see no reason we can't teach oursleves to live with less even if don't need to. Think of it as an oil resevoir for the future when we can start selling it for a similar price as oil. Oh wait it already costs more by the bottle then gas.


Here is how you eliminate shortage: Market forces. We don't have a gold shortage - and there is a hell of a lot less of it than water, plus water is renewable. Give everyone their first 500 litres per month FREE (to appease the "water is vital for life" idiots), then charge market rates for everything above that.

You know, I also think that if everyone had a little digital readout meter in their house, next to the thermostat, that said how much electricty you were currently using, in dollar figures per hour, we'd also cut back lots on electricity usage.
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#4 Holden West

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 07:05 PM

^You've got a point with visibility--what commodity gets consumers the angriest? Gasoline. Sure, most people spend more on gas than lettuce or orange juice, but no other commodity is even close to generating that amount of searing vitriol. What commodity has the most conspicuous price awareness? Gas, of course, with the cost plastered on two-foot high letters on streetcorners across the city. Even non-drivers can tell you the latest price.

No amount of public relations excercises will convince people like a conspicuous water meter next to the thermostat.

And it'll be another gadget dads can yell at their kids about. "Who touched the thermostat?! Who left the fridge door open??!!! LOOK AT THAT WATER METER!!!!!!!!"
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#5 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 07:10 PM

^ Exactly. My father WASN'T CHEAP, BUT was famous for monitoring the thermostat and lights left on, but he understood well the reLATION to price. I think some people really have no idea whta an hour of 60-wATT BULB BURNING COSTS. yOU can look at the rotating thing in your electric meter, and you know generally the faster it goes the more you are spending, but when you put a dollar figure right there on the guage/meter, it really hits home.
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#6 Holden West

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 08:35 PM

I suspect the biggest wasters of hot water are tenants of apartments with "free" hot water.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#7 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 08:49 PM

^ Damn, that's me. I've rigged up a complete radiator system that also heats my place with hot water and I never have to turn on my electric baseboard heaters.
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#8 Holden West

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 08:55 PM

Sounds like [url=http://www.amazon.com/Bachelor-Home-Companion-Practical-Keeping/dp/0871136864/sr=1-9/qid=1160542639/ref=sr_1_9/002-0953541-2636866?ie=UTF8&s=books:62cbd]P. J. O'Rourke[/url:62cbd]'s plan for those who get "free" electricity: To clear snow from your driveway put your oven on "broil" and drag it face-down back and forth.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#9 Holden West

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 09:48 PM

Oct. 4 2006 (Copyright Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006)

Saanich residents will pay-per-flush as of Jan. 1.

Council has voted in favour of a proposed bylaw that will see the municipality join the majority of others in the region with a consumption-based sewage billing system. The bylaw will be back before council later this month for final approval.

The user-pay sewage billing system will be phased in over three years.

Several residents were upset and concerned about the change, suggesting at a public hearing Monday that people may simply risk health concerns and not flush if they have to pay, or might put feces in a bag and dispose of them in the garbage rather than flushing.

[Holy ****, how cheap can you get?! The day I decide I have to crap in a Ziploc bag to save two cents is the day I get another job.]

Some business owners, such as Diego Trozzo at the Bird of Paradise Pub, aren't happy about anticipated bill increases up to 300 per cent. But councillors in favour of the change said that 62 per cent of homeowners would see a decrease or no change under the new system. The other 38 per cent would see an increase, but it will be based on how much water they consume. Sewer bills are on the tax notice now and are directly tied to property assessment.

Mayor Frank Leonard said it boils down to either paying for sewer use based on the price of your house, or on how much you use the system.

Leonard, and all councillors but for Bob Gillespie and Leif Wergeland were in favour of the new billing system. They cited as their reasons equity, conservation, the new method being revenue- neutral (no more money is expected to be collected from it than from the current one) and Saanich's desire to collect money through user- pay where appropriate, rather than through municipal taxes.

Gillespie and Wergeland voted against the bylaw.

"Why are we rushing to do this now?" Gillespie asked. He suggested waiting until the cost of the Capital Regional District's sewage treatment system is known. "Hold on to your hats," he said of the treatment system; the cost "will be high."

Under Saanich's new billing system, the sewer cost will be on a homeowner's utility bill. There will be an annual $31 fee.

The remaining charge will be based on how much water goes into the house.

The rate is directly tied to the amount of water used, because it's assumed that 80 per cent of water that goes into a home goes out through the sewage system. The water meter reading will also then determine the sewer bill. Reduce the water coming in, and that reduces your sewage bill. No additional equipment will be used. Existing water meters will be read.

Gardeners needn't worry about skyrocketing costs, said Paul Murray, Saanich's director of finance.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#10 Holden West

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 09:49 PM

dp
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#11 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 09:53 PM

I don't know about this. Just charge more for the water, as I'm in favour of.
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#12 Ms. B. Havin

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 09:55 PM

... water is renewable.


You're kidding, right?
When you buy a game, you buy the rules. Play happens in the space between the rules.

#13 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 09:58 PM

... water is renewable.


You're kidding, right?


No. Clean water falls out of the sky every day. We just have to collect it better. We only use something like 1% of Canada's potable water. And then idiots groan about us sharing it with the US. These same people have no problem witn us selling the US energy (oil/electricty) that does more environmental damage.

The Mackenze River alone spews out more fresh water daily than the ENTIRE WORLD POPULATION could consume for drinking water.
<p><span style="font-size:12px;"><em><span style="color:rgb(40,40,40);font-family:helvetica, arial, sans-serif;">"I don’t need a middle person in my pizza slice transaction" <strong>- zoomer, April 17, 2018</strong></span></em></span>

#14 TheVisionary

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 01:56 AM

I suspect the biggest wasters of hot water are tenants of apartments with "free" hot water.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bingo! You betcha! Those tenants are forever sucking at the teets of the landlord. Some of them are almost on the verge of freeloading hot water. If they ever own anything of their own, then they will know the cost of money for everything. They throw everything out: hot water, pop containers, still useable consumer goods.

I profited from their discarding of refundable drink containers. They were too slack to go cash them. Some of them are so lazy, they propbably wouldn't get their ass of their couch, even if there was free money to be picked up off the streets? They snooze, I win.

#15 Number Six

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 08:08 AM

Another brilliant generalization from the Visionary. I never knew I was such a parasite to society simply because my landlord includes hot water in the cost of our rent. Perhaps it's just *your* tenants that feel it's necessary to waste hot water ... perhaps retribution for the poor condition of your building.

I'd also like to suggest that resorts, spas and just about anyone with a massive jacuzzi tub just *might* contribute to the problem.

#16 gumgum

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 08:10 AM

I suspect the biggest wasters of hot water are tenants of apartments with "free" hot water.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bingo! You betcha! Those tenants are forever sucking at the teets of the landlord. Some of them are almost on the verge of freeloading hot water. If they ever own anything of their own, then they will know the cost of money for everything. They throw everything out: hot water, pop containers, still useable consumer goods.

I profited from their discarding of refundable drink containers. They were too slack to go cash them. Some of them are so lazy, they propbably wouldn't get their ass of their couch, even if there was free money to be picked up off the streets? They snooze, I win.

OFF TOPIC!!!!

#17 Holden West

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 08:17 AM

I would suggest landlords stop using the phrase "FREE hot water" and instead say, "Hot water bundled into the monthly rent payment" but that would take up too much space.

However, a tenant that is treated poorly or in a condescending manner will often find petty ways to take it out on the landlord. It takes a while for some to grasp this concept.

Anyway, my building budgets up to $5000 a year for water and sewer expenses with thousands more going to the natural gas to heat it. If these numbers were publicized more it might remind both owners and renters alike that there is truly no "Free" water.
"Beaver, ahoy!""The bridge is like a magnet, attracting both pedestrians and over 30,000 vehicles daily who enjoy the views of Victoria's harbour. The skyline may change, but "Big Blue" as some call it, will always be there."
-City of Victoria website, 2009

#18 aastra

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 10:58 AM

I'm always skeptical of a solution to a supposed catastrophe that involves paying a tax but otherwise continuing to do exactly what you were doing before.

Fact is, there IS more than enough water in these parts. I'm sure I've said it before, I'll say it again: every new subdivision should be required to devote one lot out of 50 (or whatever) to a big rain-collecting cistern. And every house in the subdivision should be required to use the collected water for washing cars and flushing toilets and watering lawns and gardens. Faucets and showerheads are connected to drinking water; toilets and outdoor taps (and maybe even laundry taps) are connected to collected water.

You can't seriously argue that there's a shortage of water and then go hose off your driveway with drinking water.

I'd bet a donut that more water collects on my balcony and runs out the little drain hole in a year than I use in a year.

#19 gumgum

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Posted 17 November 2006 - 11:12 AM

Fact is, the way things are going in the CRD region, we'll be faced with having to tap into the Leech River in 20 years, that's supposed to cost us over $100 million to clean. We accumulate plenty of water over the summer months, we just don't retain enough to last us at the current development pace.
I like your idea if mandatory rain collecting, aastra.
I wonder how big it would need to be to serve irrigation for plants and other missilaneous things for the entire dry season, per household.
I also think all new buildings should at least follow LEED type standards in rain collection.

#20 rayne_k

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Posted 23 January 2007 - 07:02 PM

Fact is, the way things are going in the CRD region, we'll be faced with having to tap into the Leech River in 20 years, that's supposed to cost us over $100 million to clean. We accumulate plenty of water over the summer months, we just don't retain enough to last us at the current development pace.
I like your idea if mandatory rain collecting, aastra.
I wonder how big it would need to be to serve irrigation for plants and other missilaneous things for the entire dry season, per household.
I also think all new buildings should at least follow LEED type standards in rain collection.


Given our weather patterns I heartily agree that this would make alot of sense here. - And we wouldn't even have to reinvent the wheel.

I was recently talking to a friend who has moved to a smaller city in NSW Australia and he was telling me that in the last 5 or so years they've seen a dramatic shift in water policy requirements for new buildings - before only rural homes were required to have water collection tanks, and now it is becoming a requirement for new homes in urban areas. Hel tells me that the tanks basically look like small sheds along the side of the house and some are even being hooked up to use for flushing toilets - hardly need to flush drinking quality water down the toilet.

I'm sure other places do it too, but this is the first I've heard of it being a requirement.

A real-estate posting:
http://www.domain.com.au/Public/PropertyDetails.aspx?adid=5081682

Oh for the Saanich sewer fee? They should just require caroma-style toilets for new builds (with steeper plumbing pitches). A 3L flush is a pretty painless way to save water.

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