Thursday, October 16, 2014

We Need New Thinking on Water

From Nature - Water politics must adapt to a warming world:
"The United States needs a more rational water sector. As climate change continues, it makes little sense, for example, to use heavily subsidized water supplies to grow rice in California or Texas when the crop could be imported from water-rich countries in southeast Asia. (The excessive water, incidentally, is needed not to grow the rice but to suppress weeds.)
To address water shortages, Texas plans to develop new reservoirs. The depreciated cost of construction per acre-foot is more than $600. This is about the same cost as of desalination. Water-industry reform would open the door to alternative technologies — desalination included — that cannot compete in currently distorted markets. For the United States and others to encourage innovation and ensure access to fresh water, the old system of subsidies must be reformed.
In the second half of the last century, new regulations drastically changed the telecommunications and electricity industries in the United States and elsewhere. This success could be transferred to the water sector worldwide, starting now with federal-guided reforms in drought-stricken California and Texas."

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