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On a night in which San Diego received its first measurable rainfall of the season, a water-scarcity meeting was held at Liberty Station on Wednesday, October 5.

Over glasses of wine and bruschetta with salmon and dill in the San Diego Foundation meeting room, policymakers and citizens pow-wowed over the future of water and scarcity pricing concepts.

According to Surfrider San Diego, which hosted the event along with some other local environmental groups, "In San Diego, our clean water costs about .01 of a cent per gallon. If the average person uses 165 gallons a day, that's $1.65 a day. Many of us spend three times that on our morning Starbucks."

Native Californian David Zetland (author of The End of Abundance) addressed the group and discussed how "simple innovative approaches can close the gap between water supply and demand."

Belinda Smith of Surfrider San Diego reiterated that desalination plants are not needed if localities can get their water needs under control. She also reminded the nearly 80 people in attendance that grass lawns are "a costly treat here in San Diego and not an absolute necessity."

(stock photo)

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Twister Oct. 7, 2011 @ 2:47 p.m.

Let's all compare specifics. Let's compare water bills and lot area; the only equitable basis (that has a raindrop's chance in hell of acceptance) for water apportionment. All of the needed data already exist.

Here, on our little plot of San Diego, our basic water use is about 1.3 feet (per square foot of lot per year (including household and outside uses) in an 8-10 inch annual precipitation contour; some years better, some years worse. We have increased that about 25% in the last two years because we are raising tomatoes and our fruit trees are growing bigger. That is, we are using about twice the annual rainfall if every drop that fell on our property were captured and never evaporated or ran off into the San Diego River and on to the Pacific Ocean.

The annual PET (potential evapotranspiration) rate is somewhere around 3 or 4 feet per year, so that is roughly the annual "requirement" to maintain traditional landscaping (say, grass). We use about half that, mainly due to leaving so much of the yard fallow and letting much of the bushes live under high stress most of the time. Most people use about ten times as much as we do, some even more. They want to reward themselves for their "conservation," (a 10% reduction in their previous level of "use," a reduction, say, from 10 feet per year to 9, and penalize us for growing more food, a 25% increase from 1.3 feet to 1.6. Our usage is still less than half the Class A pan evaporation rate.

However, the more water "we" save, the more water is freed up for more and more development. When there is a finite supply, each consumer will get less and less as the number of consumers increase. And, of course, it will cost more and more for less and less.


andrewj Oct. 8, 2011 @ 8:45 p.m.

Good point--and the more "we" save the more the price of water increases.


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