Catalyst: California August 11, 2015
Martin: I’ll start with this, that one of things I see that’s not working is we’ve it seems to me that our policies that are created in response to the drought which I think is some sense and to define what our focus and our focus is trying to have sustainable water for, you know, in perpetuity, a sustainability being a perpetual not 20 years or whatever and it just seems to me that the policies that we’ve implement mainly I think because but they’re so reactive don’t necessarily lead to the outcome that we’re actually trying to accomplish. For example a straight percentage of the reduction on water use from municipalities, that will reduce the incentive to actually conserve… to implement and spend on water conservation. Cause if I say, I can spend a lot of money to save water and then I’m not able to use it because I’m require to reduce my percentage use It doesn’t matter that I have a use for it, I’m just mandated a certain percentage reduction. So why do I have to do invest a bunch of money in saving, you know, additional water when I’ve not able to use that. I have no return on investment.
Unknown Male1: Yes, that’s very true, and that’s one of the key factors that people do not understand that water and money are intricately related. And so all the discussions about water and water savings but anything around water needs to create financial value as what people are getting. So we really appreciate your comments. There’s no financial incentive. Nobody’s really going to sense it later.
Jack: Martin, this is Jack Burton speaking, do you also think that sort of speaks to the dichotomous nature of how the business model of the utility is set up and the challenge of being able to, you know, expand infrastructure or deal with this changes and at the same time needing to sell water but then on the other hand needing to create this culture of conservation
Unknown Male 1: It make sense, it make sense. So comes down to all agree first on the value of water that’s the big problem.
Martin: We set emotional value on it but we’re not willing to set objective economic value on it, and one of the reasons is because our concern about social equity. Well you’ll said a certain amount that says hey, this is how much is reasonable for human consumption that will answer somewhat you still got to answer the question about so are we good for indefinite population growth?
Unknown Male 1: Well, it just have to admit Israel and Denmark, Israel being the number one [unintelligible] people of all by Denmark and while you have this nations who have citizens who consider themselves water citizens where you have water law, we have a water economy, you’ll see that that water prices are the highest but these are the nations that function and they have a water surplus and then highest conservation rate so all comes down to fixing a proper price to water.
Jack: Agreed. So the first challenge is, this is Jack, the first challenge is actually get the public to understand that they’re paying that’s incredibly subsidize price for water and then try to ease people into what would be the real price of it ?
Unknown Male 1: No, the first challenge is as it came out in the webinar is to educate the public because we have moral literacy and we have financial literacy. So people first of all have to understand and practice to appreciate and manage water wisely. By nature that’s only going to happen once people run out of water and as Benjamin Franklin said in 1746, when the tap runs dry, we know the value of water. So this is the process you can try proactively, but unfortunately also has to be fortified you know by nature crisis and scarcity and lack of water for people to realize the true value of water.
Jack: Yes education is the first step but they were great point made this. Not just water education. One of the biggest problems that we have both way we’re talking about elected officials, appointed or the public is that there’s a lack of understanding of financial and economics and so when you saw you start to try to connect the cost of water with the value of water what it takes to get there, you know, you tried to talk about the liability is differed maintenance, people understand accrued liability so it’s right now I think there’s a lack of.. in the public understanding and awareness, both in the sense of the value of water but also in terms of public does not understand that finance and economics I mean understand what the most.. water .. saying, water on the rights the value of the entire built environment.
Unknown Male 1: Very true, very true.
Martin: lose water and your businesses have no value, your homes have no value, all of the money you spend on it infrastructure has no value, well, almost no value it has some limited residual values but it’s actual value that we place on it now is lost in substantial amount, if you lose water.
Unknown Male 1: Very true. And in 2015 we’re going to have because of the water scarcity, we’re going to have 45% of global GDP which is drawn at 73 trillion impacted by water scarcity. It’s 45% of Global GDP
Elizabeth Cassidy: This is Elizabeth Cassidy one of the things I think that would be really helpful in both education and in a practical solution is teaching both ourselves public and water agencies about water budgets. And then people go through here’s how I spend my water in my house. Here’s how we spend our water in our water agency. In California, one of the things that’s happening is that Water Agencies are taking this opportunity to enliven rights that they had but just never used I’ll just take the case of Dispe Municipal Water District here in the bay area. And they are now accessing water from a new source, [unintelligible] water transfer and they’re not just using that water for customers, but they’re actually selling that water to other agencies. in order to make up for the loss of income. and so, looking at what water is coming in, and literally how are we spending that water. And I think that if you teach people to do that in their own home, then they get the sense that water is of value. They start looking I’m going to take it one more level they start looking at what is the best water to use for that end use. So say they’re doing their landscape, well is potable water full of chlorine really the best water to use for their landscape? No it’s rainwater, it’s grey water. And then you start attaching your water budget to the best water sources. Which enables a greater diversification of water sources on a local level.
Unknown Male 1: That is true but the..
Brett: I wish we actually attached metrics to how we used our water, so we would look at all of our economics in terms of for example State of California, and say here’s our total water portfolio and here’s the GDP per acre foot for this economic activity, and we start to look at how we invest our water in terms of the return on that investment as a limited resource.
Elizabeth: One other thing that I wanted to add to that. So I notice that in this conversation we’re not talking about water at all for the ecosystem. So we’re talking about water only as it is needed by humans. And another part of the water budget is keeping enough water in the rivers, in the ground, to support the ecosystem that is continuing to produce that water. So we have this you just like sort of like quarter terms in economics. We have quarter terms in water and we’re not really looking at well if we continue to take 80% of the river out, out of the river, out of the watershed. What is it going to do to the watershed ultimately? So great we have water for now but will that water shed still have the capacity to continue to produce water, even if we only care about us, we don’t care about a number of species on the planet. We’re undercutting ourselves by not taking care of the water that we’re the watersheds that we’re depending upon. Until our water budgets have to expand not just for human consumption and human use but for the maintenance and health of the watershed.
Brett: Exactly agreed.
Unknown Male 1: I need to backtrack quickly because you are leaving something out of the equation. I’m from Unknown Male 1y. In Unknown Male 1y everything is metered. The only way to create efficiency is if you know what you actually consume. So you need to first have laws in place that provide for proper metering and monitoring of the water, otherwise you cannot really implement efficiency. So that’s the first thing. So I live in Santa Monica for example, and it’s a six unit building I’m living in, and not one of the 6 units has separate metering. So the landlord has to foot the bill. So if I just want to be vicious, and run the shower for 48 hours, there’s nothing the landlord can do. So this needs to change first and every water outlet needs to be metered by law.
Elizabeth: I could not agree more and I as a public educator about water conservation and water use where I always start it by asking people first where their water comes from and second how much water they use everyday. Because it is amazing.. amazing how few people can tell you how many gallons they use. Even though it’s right there on their water bill, for those of us who are metered. And that bit of information, just like anything, if you don’t meter what you use, how will you ever know that you’re saving? I mean that I think that’s a it’s unfortunately a really obvious but unused form of education.
Brett: It does have an interesting and complication to it. Because they we’re working on a law to do exactly that in California, the complication is already you know as a mutual agency that we have I mean, our meter of accuracy is that is important to us because is the media aware that it actually builds less not more and so we’re monitoring and tracking trying to make sure it’s accurate and doing what it’s supposed to do for revenue purposes but when you start to install meters on private systems which they would be on an apartment, now the landlord is responsible, or someone’s responsible for making sure that meter is accurate. And so you have we already get complaints about inaccuracies you know, as municipalities now you’ve multiplied that by a factor of I don’t know, a hundred or a thousand maybe more meters and who’s going to be responsible to make sure those are accurate and that they’re actually doing what they’re suppose we doing in the reading what they’re supposed to be reading in. You’ll get a lot of issues that way and when you start to require that you have to have, okay, so now it’s going to have to be someone who’s going to regulate that in and what sort of bureaucracy inside of a bureaucracy would be required to regulate that ad infinitum. So, I’m not saying it’s not a good idea, I’m just saying that sometimes the best made plans are fraught with unintended consequences.
Unknown Male 1: Electricity is metered, so you know water is just another utility, I don’t see that as challenge.
Jake: That’s what I’m afraid of that they’ll make it the city’s responsibility and we are already having trouble. See the thing is that electricity is managed a different way as managed by a commission and did just say how much their cost is and they add a percentage to it and that’s how their rates are set.
Unknown Female: Yeah I don’t have a diseased attitude, I actually really feel like that this is our time to shine, you know, I really feel that we’re at push comes to shove and you know, the sense of it does feel that there’s an spot light on this area in particular, I feel that we have incredible opportunity to you, you know, tackle the issues that we’re facing because you’re right, this is a microcosm of, you know, a microcosmic example of what we are dealing with globally and I think that we have an incredible opportunity to set an example. I just, you know, I just to go to these meetings and I see what’s being said and I kind of, you know, that will sometimes dampen my enthusiasm but the thing, you know, I’m one of many people on this area that’s ready for this for the climb. I want to call it a fight. I’m ready for it.
Brett: Well you sound fairly young, how many other young people, young leaders are involved down there to say, okay, let’s not you know. You all can fight about this but let’s solve this and I mean.. [interrupted – end of Breakout]