Stuff I wrote elsewhere: The Great Decoupling of the West’s Water

This 2010 paper by Peter Gleick and Meena Palaniappan planted the seed, and as I worked on my book I found examples everywhere – geographies and economic communities that are using less water even as they were growing. I blogged about it, as one does, one thing led to another, and when I finished the book …

Continue reading ‘Stuff I wrote elsewhere: The Great Decoupling of the West’s Water’ »

Green versus green: removing Snake River dams

One of my University of New Mexico Water Resources Program colleagues frequently points out what they call “green versus green issues” – environmental tradeoffs that are often under-examined because our environmental discourse focuses on one set of values without sufficiently incorporating other values. Today’s inbox missive: removing dams from the Snake River in the U.S. …

Continue reading ‘Green versus green: removing Snake River dams’ »

The inevitable decline of irrigated acreage in California’s central valley

It’s a relatively straightforward point: when there is less water to irrigate farmland, there will be less irrigated farmland. For example, OtPR last year: As groundwater sustainability agencies have to bring irrigated acreage in line with the sustainable yield of the groundwater basin, they will be retiring irrigated lands (Dr. Burt: 1-1.5 million acres; Dr. Lund: …

Continue reading ‘The inevitable decline of irrigated acreage in California’s central valley’ »

From the World Bank, hope for our ability to handle climate change’s water problems

A new report by a team from the World Bank offers hope for the ability of most of the world to cope with increasing water scarcity associated with climate change. The headlines following the report’s release have been grim: “Global water shortages to deliver ‘severe hit’ to economies, World Bank warns“, to cite one typical …

Continue reading ‘From the World Bank, hope for our ability to handle climate change’s water problems’ »

On the use of the word “decoupling”

I’ve been using the word “decoupling” to describe what is happening in the relationship between water use and population/economic growth. The phenomenon is common, and I blog about it a lot – water use going down even as population and agricultural productivity go up. Now comes Robert Stavins, a prominent environmental economist, to argue that …

Continue reading ‘On the use of the word “decoupling”’ »

Is Flint a reverse “environmental Kuznets curve”?

One of the most important findings of environmental economics in recent decades is what is called the “environmental Kuznets curve”, a finding that as a community’s affluence rises, environmental “bads” – think air and water pollution, for example – decline. Could what has happened in Flint, Michigan, be evidence that this phenomenon is bi-directional – …

Continue reading ‘Is Flint a reverse “environmental Kuznets curve”?’ »

Despite drought, California agriculture adds 30,000 jobs

It’s increasingly clear that the lessons we’re learning from California’s drought are not those we expected. Far from the doom of so much of the rhetoric, Californians are adapting to scarcity with remarkable aplomb. The latest data point, from Phillip Reese and Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee, may be the most interesting yet: California’s …

Continue reading ‘Despite drought, California agriculture adds 30,000 jobs’ »

Poverty, income inequality, and US water infrastructure

Brett Walton wrote a smart piece about the relationship between poverty, income inequality, and decaying US water infrastructure: Affordable water requires an all-in effort that cuts across the political spectrum, a mix of redirected spending priorities, tax policy, social programs, and engineering assessments at the local, state, and federal levels. The urgency, experts assert, will …

Continue reading ‘Poverty, income inequality, and US water infrastructure’ »

Water insecurity: think poverty, not climate

I’ve recently become acquainted with interesting research by Texas A&M geographer Wendy Jepson, who has studied household water insecurity along the U.S.-Mexico border. There’s a tendency to look for a technological fix (“Look at this cool new filter we invented!”), but Jepson found this less than effective (“HWS” is “household water security”): We evaluated the efficacy …

Continue reading ‘Water insecurity: think poverty, not climate’ »

Flawed rate structures cost California water utilities half a billion dollars

Tara Lohan at Water Deeply had a great interview last week with Tom Ash of Southern California’s Inland Empire Water Agencies about the problem of water revenue in a time of conservation and drought: Tom Ash: What I learned is that it doesn’t matter where in the world – China, Chile, Spain, France, Italy, Israel …

Continue reading ‘Flawed rate structures cost California water utilities half a billion dollars’ »