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Municipal/regional water supply discussion


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#41 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 12:47 PM

Because of this.


See, I read that story different from you. The way I see it, everyone wanted the status quo there in California (ie. the farmers paid little or nothing for their water). I think the current syetem here where the price of water has absolutely no relation to the cost of gathering and distributing it is very, very flawed.

Denis Prosperi: I’m a capitalist in the truest sense. I farm almonds and wine grapes which are two of the commodities that have no subsidies. We have booms and we have busts. We’re just coming out of one of the worst busts that the grape business has seen in 50 years. The almond business is booming. Five years ago it was down. I believe in free enterprise. But I also believe that if the price of almonds goes to $2.50 a pound, it’s not catastrophic if people who can’t afford them don’t want to eat them. If the price of wine goes up a dollar a bottle, it’s not going to make much difference to the world economy. But when you’re talking about water, you’re talking about the lifeblood of life itself.

For Chris Wasden, his time at Azurix taught him that the water business is not a good investment.

Chris Wasden: I had an executive approach me the other day that said that he had the backing from a very wealthy family in New York…that had just read a World Bank report on the situation of the water industry globally. And talked about what will happen by 2015 what needs to happen with regards to water. Because we have this looming crisis of water. And he says you know these people they’re really smart investors and they see this and think water’s the place to be. Well you’ve worked for a big water company you’ve looked at this stuff all over the world and what do you think? I said I wouldn’t touch it. Nobody wants to let anybody make money on water.


See, we let folks make money on everyhting else in this world, but some how we hold water sacred. It's illogical.

#42 Fergus

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 01:19 PM

End-of-supply-chain food is not subsidized. Of course it is regulated, inspected, and there are farm subsidies etc. and that keeps it safe.


I think you are right about this, but consider that water is not the same as food. Water is more essential to life, and unlike food, you cannot substitute one sort of water for another. Some foods are more expensive than others, but one can get the same nutrition from less expensive foods. With water, you don't really have any other options. Sure, you could drink pop or fruit juice from concentrate, but these are also water products and fluctuations in the price of water would cause similar fluctuations in their price.


But our water supply chain is run entirely by government. Why does it make sense for water (vital for life) when we don't let the government run the (heating) energy, clothing or food system (all vital for life)?


Our water supply chain is not run entirely by the government. Many communities of a private component to their water supply. Two examples I am aware of are Walkerton and White Rock, BC.

And on the matter of electricty, opposition to the deregulation and privatization of the energy industry, which used to be wholly controlled by a Crown corporation, is great. We've seen serious failures in other jurisdictions, and many people are uncomfortable with the policies of our current government regarding energy.

As for other things that are more or less important to modern life, these are things people who are without means must pay for with government assistance. But even increasing social assistance doesn't address the inherent danger of putting water in the hands of those who make their profit largely by minimizing cost (and there are some aspects of the water supply where cost efficiency is not my first priority).

I don't know that anyone has died recently from contaminated clothing, but contaminated water can be a problem. And when the cause is mismanagement, it seems more common in private management than public.

#43 Fergus

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 01:26 PM

See, we let folks make money on everyhting else in this world, but some how we hold water sacred. It's illogical.


I believe that clean air, water, and food should be a basic human right. I don't include water for your lawn in this, mind. But anytime there is a person who is dying for lack of one of these things, we are failing as a civilization.

I assume we agree on this point. My interpretation of your posts is that you believe that the best way to supply clean water to all the people of the earth is a free market system. I think it's crucial for governments to have a significant role in managing those things that are truly vital. Corporations have frequently shown little regard for human rights. If there's a buck in killing your grandmother, there's a corporation that will do it. Even one mistake or unscrupulous choice in managing our water system can have tragic consequences.

I support free enterprise, but I believe when it comes to matters of justice and moral action, we need an organization that isn't motivated principally by profit. Governments are far from perfect either, but their greater vulnerability to public opinion means they tend to be better custodians of society's interests than corporations.

#44 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 01:27 PM

I don't know that anyone has died recently from contaminated clothing, but contaminated water can be a problem. And when the cause is mismanagement, it seems more common in private management than public.


OK, we'll agree to disagree on most points, I can appreciate your point of view. But I'm not sure about this last statement. Here is a snapshot of problems in one instant just on first-nations reserves (government run water supplies):

http://www.ctv.ca/se...28?hub=Specials

One BC reserve has been under boil-water for over 9 years:

http://www.cbc.ca/st...neuk051031.html

EDIT: It got fixed last month:

http://www.marketwir...se.do?id=820777

I can't remember any time Dasani or Evian issued a boil-water advisory.

#45 Fergus

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 01:54 PM

VHF, that is certainly a sorry account right there. I certainly admit that governments are far from perfect. You'd have to be delusional to think otherwise! One group our government seems to have a long history of failing is the First Nations. It's difficult to say from any of those sources to what extent local band leaders may have been a factor, what role racism may have played in the failure, but there can be no question that it's a serious failure. As previously stated, this something we should see in terms of a failure to protect the basic human rights of our First Nations people.

Do also keep in mind the sidenote that in some cases a Boil Water Advisory is not necessarily an indication of mismanagement. Sometimes it's good management, and the advisory can be a precaution. We get them here in Nanaimo from time to time when severe flooding flows into the reservoir and muddies the water. They're precautionary for us just in case that mud carried with it some bacteria that may be harmful, and they don't last for nine years.

But would a free market improve the conditions for these First Nations people? Some live in desperate poverty and would likely be in a market area that is not profitable or easy to serve. Reserve lands are often not located in prime real estate. Is there a good profit argument to radically improve these conditions? I don't know. I fear not. I tend to think if the general public cared more about the plight of First Nations, perhaps we get some political action to clear up this embarrassing situation.

I can certainly agree to disagree on some of the points in the big picture here, but I do think the debate is helpful. We should consider all ideas and we as a species should implement whatever is going to get the job done best.

#46 Fergus

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 02:12 PM

Here's some updated info from Health Canada.

As of February 8, 2008, there were 90 First Nations communities across Canada under a Drinking Water Advisory.


Their justification sounds weak.

The reasons why many First Nations communities are on long-term drinking water advisories vary. Many First Nations communities face the same challenges in providing safe drinking water as do other small, remote or isolated communities, such as difficulties in finding and retaining qualified water treatment plant operators.

Reasons for long-term drinking water advisories may also include community decisions to lower or turn off the chlorinator because of community concerns about the taste of chlorine in drinking water after treatment. The time required to perform upgrades or replacements to a water facility in a community may lead to a long-term drinking water advisory.

It should be noted that drinking water advisories are issued by provincial/territorial governments in many non-First Nations communities across Canada, and are most notable in communities that are small, remote and/or isolated.



#47 Fergus

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 03:03 PM

I can't remember any time Dasani or Evian issued a boil-water advisory.


According to Wikipedia:

While there have been few comprehensive studies, one analysis several years ago found that about 22 percent of brands that were tested contain, in at least one sample, chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits. If consumed over a long period of time, some of these contaminants could cause cancer or other health problems.[12] In addition, 60 to 70 percent of all bottled water in the U.S. is packaged and sold in a state that is not regulated by the FDA. In the United States, 1 in 5 states do not regulate bottled water[13]."


Perrier's reputation for purity suffered a blow in 1990 when a North Carolina study reported having found benzene in the water. Source Perrier shifted from explanation to explanation on the issue, finally stating that it was an isolated incident of a worker having made a mistake in the filtering procedure and that the spring itself was unpolluted. The incident ultimately led to the recall of 160 million bottles of Perrier.[3]


Wikipedia articles:
Bottled Water
Perrier

Dasani is actually sourced from municipal water supplies, so it is potentially vulnerable to contamination there. Evian as far as I know has had a clean record. Bottled water is also extremely expensive and harmful to the environment (the environmental cost of transportation alone is a big issue).

#48 UrbanRail

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 09:04 PM

I think people are forgetting that drinking from plastic is a health concern. Plastic contains a alot of hormones and chemicals that cause health problems. Dont reuse plastic water bottles, use glass or stainless steel which dont break down when exposed to pop or juice acids. Now I know its hard to get away from plastic, I am trying to find stainless steel containers myself.

My recommendation is to not heat plastic (microwavable containers are the worst, in fact dont use a microwave at all.). The heating process breaks down the plastic faster, releasing the toxins into the food or liquid quicker.

#49 Fergus

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Posted 15 February 2008 - 09:14 PM

"It must be noted that while the plastics industry and government health agencies in both the U.S. and Europe currently maintain that chemicals migrating into food from plastic wraps and containers pose no human health threat, consumer and environmental groups say otherwise. Both sides support their case by citing a lack of concrete evidence. The FDA argues that no studies have yet demonstrated toxic effects on humans; consumer advocates argue that not enough studies have been done."

-- About.com

I would like to see some studies on this. Does anyone have a link to something?

My main concern with plastics is their use of petroleum, which poses both environmental and economic questions.

#50 VicHockeyFan

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Posted 16 February 2008 - 12:15 AM

"It must be noted that while the plastics industry and government health agencies in both the U.S. and Europe currently maintain that chemicals migrating into food from plastic wraps and containers pose no human health threat, consumer and environmental groups say otherwise. Both sides support their case by citing a lack of concrete evidence. The FDA argues that no studies have yet demonstrated toxic effects on humans; consumer advocates argue that not enough studies have been done."

-- About.com

I would like to see some studies on this. Does anyone have a link to something?

My main concern with plastics is their use of petroleum, which poses both environmental and economic questions.



95% of new homes have plastic piping now as opposed to the copper, and now the old underground pipes are still mostly cast iron. But now anywhere that is new has an ABS pipe bringing in water from the pipe.

#51 davek

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Posted 30 March 2008 - 06:15 PM

A little something to stir up the pot.

#52 gumgum

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 10:25 AM

City to switch to metered water billing
Move a boon for misers, but will punish heavy users
Carolyn Heiman, Times Colonist
Published: Saturday, July 19, 2008


#53 davek

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 01:08 PM

The downside is that water will still be provided by a government monopoly, so service and supply will continue to be poor value. Office holders will be unable to resist the incentives to subsidize water prices, and the market distortions caused by that will prevent optimal conservation. Still, I think that this is good news for the economy and the environment.

#54 G-Man

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 07:25 PM

^ What are you talking about you are free to buy water from private companies though I think you might find home use expensive.

#55 davek

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 08:44 AM

^ What are you talking about you are free to buy water from private companies though I think you might find home use expensive.


Once again, G-Man is correct. So long as water can be purchased from someone other than the government, government water provision doesn't meet the strictest definition of monopoly. It is merely a virtual monopoly. Government apologists will take far more comfort from this than they should, as irresistible incentives will insure that water provision dominated by the public sector will continue to be poor value, and will not even approach optimal conservation.

#56 Caramia

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Posted 20 July 2008 - 09:30 AM

oh oh... expect to see this in the price of craft beer.

#57 rjag

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 04:00 PM

The following is part of my letter to the CRD water board today after receiving a notice of complaint about watering on an 'off day'

....., the complaint indicated I was using my sprinkler system on May ** at **:** A.M. I do not deny this. However I was actively involved with my wife in fixing a broken sprinkler pipe in our back garden as well as adjusting the heads throughout our whole property to ensure they were providing adequate coverage. Therefore the system was on and off for about 2-3 hours throughout that day.

What concerns me is that when I called and spoke with *****, who was very helpful, she was unable to answer my questions beyond stating that the complaint was filed by a CRD employee hired to patrol for this exact thing. I have the following concerns and questions;

1. Even though I can provide receipts for that day showing I had purchased sprinkler supplies and pipes the complaint stays on file indefinitely.

2. When I asked if another complaint was lodged in 2 months or 2 years from now what would be the action based on having this 1st complaint on file and she indicated that it would be treated as a 2nd complaint on file and the response would be based on the penalty of a 2nd complaint at that time.

3. I asked if there was someone I could speak with regarding this complaint and where I could challenge it and she said it was only a warning letter and not to be too concerned. I disagree, I have been found guilty without any room for defense or appeal, based on the information she supplied.

4. I am very concerned that such rules can be implemented without thought for recourse or room to challenge. While I agree with the need for water conservation and the resulting bylaw, I strongly disagree with the fact that there is no term limit for how long complaints stay on file and that there is no place to appeal. I believe that because you have not provided these options, then any resulting future penalty would be invalid.

5. Based on the bylaw, I assume the complaint made against me was under 3.4 of the bylaw. Therefore the resultant penalties may be enforced at the discretion of the CRD. However, under the same bylaw it provides no room for recourse or appeal, plus the complaint is made against the address not the owner. Therefore if the property changes owner, are you implying that it is incumbent on the new owner to check if there are outstanding complaints and if so what recourse does the new owner have.

I believe the bylaw even though created with the best of intentions may not be valid and could possibly be challenged legally.


In other words their bylaw is most likely unenforcable as there is no room for appeal or a term limit (think speeding points on your license and how 3 points expire after a year, yet this is like points against your car not the driver and they dont expire.)

#58 mat

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 04:17 PM

The following is part of my letter to the CRD water board today after receiving a notice of complaint about watering on an 'off day'



In other words their bylaw is most likely unenforcable as there is no room for appeal or a term limit (think speeding points on your license and how 3 points expire after a year, yet this is like points against your car not the driver and they dont expire.)


Small claims court - it will be overturned.

#59 G-Man

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 06:09 PM

^^ Actually my suggestion would be to make a complaint to the BC Ombudsman as the lack of appeal that you mention would put you squarely in her court with a complaint against the administrative fairness of the process.

#60 davek

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Posted 01 June 2009 - 08:49 PM

It's too bad water isn't provided entirely by the private sector. Then we would have an abundant supply dependably delivered at an affordable price by someone who couldn't take advantage of their monopoly to treat us like criminals for unauthorized consumption of water. We would also have the option of taking our business elsewhere, instead of having to go to court or appeal to an Ombudsman for justice.

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