The struggle with municipal water rates in response to conservation

The downside to the remarkable water conservation I’ve been writing about (see yesterday’s Albuquerque numbers, for example) is revenue. Water utilities sell water. If people use less water, water utilities make less money. One option is to shift to more fixed-costs pricing, charging a flat rate for service, but then you lose the behavioral incentive …

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Albuquerque at 127 gallons per person per day – how low can cities go?

I’m giving a talk next week at the CLE Law of the River conference in Las Vegas about what I think is one of the two most important trends in western water management. The first, which we hear a lot about, is the pressure posed by climate change and drought. The second, which I don’t think …

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California ag showing remarkable resilience

Amid the rhetoric of doom, California agriculture has so far been growing its way through drought: Even as many farmers cut back their planting, California’s farm economy overall has been surprisingly resilient. Farm employment increased by more than 1 percent last year. Gross farm revenue from crop production actually increased by two-tenths of 1 percent …

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In Brazil’s drought, compensating the poor

OtPR the other day suggested compensation as drought mitigation: If the goal is drought resilience, we could use money instead of water to keep farm communities intact until a wet year.  If it is important that farm workers in Mendota live decent lives during droughts, we don’t have to find non-existent water for their employers’ farms.  We …

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Annals of adaptation: Cally Carswell on desert cattle

In High Country News, Cally Carswell has a story about the criollo (“a name that is endlessly fun to recite. These are criollo cows. (Try it: cree-oh-yo.)”: There’s anecdotal evidence that criollo will eat more of the shrubs and tougher grasses on degraded grasslands, but no hard data yet on whether that amounts to a …

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stuff I wrote elsewhere: “Depends on what you mean by ‘drought.'”

From the morning paper, an exploration of what we mean by “drought”, with some stuff on the Sheffield Nature paper so talked recently in drought circles, along with the latest grim outlook: “Drought,” University of Arizona research Gregg Garfin said, “is defined by its impacts.” I realize this is a long-winded way of being very …

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Talking about adaptation

Digging through some old files, I ran across this fascinating discussion of climate adaptation in a 2009 Las Vegas Sun interview with Pat Mulroy, head of the Southern Nevada Water Authority: [W]here we have finally begun to look at how to mitigate climate change and what we have to do in terms of changing our …

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Toward a More “Patient-Centered” Climate Science

Academia’s institutional culture fails to reward the critical work of tailoring climate science to the people who most need to understand its implications, according to a fascinating new paper by Kristen Averyt, in press at the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Averyt is deputy director of the Western Water Assessment, a University of Colorado-based …

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