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Presentation given by Robert Glennon Author and Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of Arizona at the Session: "Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It" ...

Presentation given by Robert Glennon Author and Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy, University of Arizona at the Session: "Unquenchable: America's Water Crisis and What To Do About It" at the Great Valley Center's Sacramento Valley Forum on October 28, 2009 in Chico, CA.

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  • Part I. 6 chapters Part II. 7 chapters: Surreal: Icebergs from Arctic and cloud seeding Real: Desal, reclaim w, conservation & harvesting Part III. 10 chapters: Reallocate w with incentives: price signals and market forces Themes: W lubricates American economy just as oil does. Intimate connection between W and energy.
  • Uncanny ability to remake itself. Bugsy Siegel Howard Hughes Steve Wynn
  • Bellagio Fountain photo Full service, five-diamond internationally recognized destination resort Las Vegas has 15 of 20 largest hotels in the world .
  • MGM CityCenter photo Expansion plans! Convention destination – 460 a week! Club scene
  • GW pipeline Desal for Tijuana & SD Dry out lawns
  • Mulroy’s challenge to Steve Wynn Wynn for Mirage and Treasure Island, “Pat, I just have to have a water feature. I just have to. Don’t tell me I can’t do it. Just tell me how to do it.” Double-plumbed hotel. RO treatment plant beneath hotel in parking structure. Casino recycle water, low-flow fixtures, shower aerators, on-demand hot water. The Bellagio uses GW that previously irrigated a golf course. The 4000-room hotel uses less water than golf course did. Mulroy not finished Asked me to look forward 20 years and think outside the box. Junction of Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. Pipeline. Proposal took my breath away: She wants to divert water from MS River! Across MO, KS, CO, south across NM, onto Navajo Nation, west across AZ, then into NV. Major obstacles: legal, political, engineering, environmental, financial and physical : the Rocky Mountains! 6000 feet – more than a mile straight up in the air! Future? City Centre – new urban West? Las Vegas – attractive and repellant at same time. To rest of us watching from afar: sober lesson of a city that has run out of water yet changes ahead full of dreams for the future that would make Bugsy proud.
  • [Benjamin Franklin quote] He was wrong. Fail to appreciate value even as we’re running out. We’re spoiled. Limitless supply of clean water for less money than we pay for cell phone service or cable television. Water is valuable and exhaustible but we treat it as valueless and inexhaustible. What’s happened in Vegas not staying in Vegas. National epidemic. Ignorance is bliss. How do we change course? Prevent crisis from becoming a catastrophe? It’s not too late! We control our destiny. We need concern, not panic. Solutions available. Need national commitment to pursue them.
  • Colorado farmers watched their crops wither because of a lack of irrigation water. Orme, Tennessee, did run out and was forced to truck water in from Alabama. Scientists at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography predicted that Lake Mead, which supplies water to Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Las Vegas could dry up by 2021. Hundreds of workers lost their jobs at Bowater, a South Carolina paper company, because low river flows prevented the plant from discharging its wastewater. Lack of adequate water prompted the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to rebuff Southern Nuclear Operating Company’s request to build two new reactors in Georgia.
  • Water shortages caused California farmers to cut the tops off hundreds of healthy, mature avocado trees in a desperate attempt to keep them alive. Lake Superior, the earth’s largest freshwater body, was too shallow to float fully loaded cargo ships. Decimated salmon runs prompted cancellation of the commercial fishing season off the coasts of California and Oregon. A lack of adequate water led regulators in Idaho, Arizona and Montana to deny permits for new coal-fired power plants. In Riverside County, California, water shortages forced a water district to put on hold seven proposed commercial and residential developments. Atlanta, Georgia came within three months of running out, so it banned watering lawns, washing cars, and filling swimming pools. * * * * *
  • Ch. 1 – Atlanta’s Prayer for Water In Oct. 2007, Atlanta came w/in 3 months of running out of water. [Photo of Lake Lanier – Atlanta’s principal water supply] 2-yr drought Calls for conservation and reduction in use Georgia has extraordinary water resources: 49 inches of rain annually 70,000 miles of streams 400,000 acres of lakes 4.5 million acres of wetlands Water in south; people in north. Atlanta epitome of sprawl. I75 is 15 lanes wide. Will become 23 lanes – 388 feet wide. Coca-Cola – W is main ingredient. VP for sustainability: “Surprising to us that Southeast is in a water shortage.” Water not just environmental issue. It’s economic issue.
  • Photo of ACF Basin Georgia’s response: Gov. Sonny Purdue played the blame game Prayer vigil Tennessee River. Georgia legislature’s resolution: “erroneous” survey. What Georgia did not do: Restrict new uses Approved new permits. No need for permit unless exceeds 100,000 gallons/day – 36 million/yr! Groundwater well drilling businesses booming as are sales of lawn paint.
  • Stone Mountain Park Most outrageous use of water. Theme park Jan. 2007, long after drought began, announced new attraction: Coca-Cola Snow Mountain 400-foot tubing hill and 13,000-sq. ft. play area Stone Mountain’s VP: “Research indicated 70% of Atlanta’s kids never experienced real snow & only 40% of Atlanta’s families has experienced snow as a family unit.” Snow Mtn addresses that gap. 200 tons of snow a day. Said “vice president of guest experience,” “This is the first time in US that an outdoor snow pack of this scope has been created in this type of climate.” Began making snow on Oct. 1, a day when the temperature hit 81 degrees! Stone Mountain: Consumed more than 1 million gallons before ridicule led to abandonment.
  • Recent drought different because demand has risen. Once rainfall returns, back to business as usual. In May 2008, Purdue relaxed restrictions on watering plants and filling swimming pools. A 3-month 15% drop persuaded governor that state had embraced “culture of conservation.”
  • We Americans have the attention span of a gerbil. Ch. 2 – Wealth & Culture of Water Consumption Demand for water: Population: Elephant in room US Census Bureau – 300 to 420 million by 2050. 1 new person every 11 seconds. “ I moved to the Sun Belt in 1985.” People moving from where water is to where it isn’t or there isn’t enough. US water use actually dipped between 1980 and 2000. Localized reality of water shortages. Bill Gates walks into a bar… Population surge. New demands. “ Power showers.” 3, 100-gallon hot water heaters
  • [Photo of Kohler shower] Water parks. Waveyard in Mesa. Water ski lakes, kayak courses, ski resorts (indulgent – change nature – engineering mentality). Bottled water: $11 billion in 2006. Penn & Teller spoof. Backlash Nestle’s strategy Citizens’ groups. Alice Waters. SF Mayor Gavin Newsom Public Citizen and religious groups: moral question.
  • Water Follies . I was first to point finger. Yet don’t object to bottled water. I drink it sometimes but not spring water. Bottled w better for you than beer or soda. Cost comparison to these beverages not tap water. Plastic (PET) disposal problem real, but need to compare Gatorade bottles or Pepsi cans. Bottled water companies fighting back. “ Enhanced water” [Photo of Aniston ad] Jennifer Aniston shills for Glaceau’s “vapor distilled Smartwater.” Nutritionist. “You could just as easily eat handful of almonds.” I can’t wait for Penn & Teller sequel. Serious issue: Erode confidence in public water supply. Third World countries. In US, if affluent turn away, inherent democratic commitment to safe water for all.
  • Ch. 3 – Our Thirst for Energy In 2000, 54 ethanol plants. In 2008, 139, with 62 under construction. Corn-based ethanol: 51-cent credit for US ethanol & 54-cent tariff on Brazil’s sugarcane ethanol. PJ O’Rourke quip. Energy Independence & Security Act of 2007. 500% increase, to 36 billion gallons by 2022. Lots of reasons ethanol controversial. Debate has ignored water use. Minnesota – not enough water for refineries in several towns. Granite Falls Energy. Modern plants with recycling consume more than 4 gallons water to refine 1 gallon ethanol. First farmers have to grow the corn. As much as 2500 gallons of water for corn for 1 gallon ethanol. California – goal 1 billion gallons ethanol per year. 1.7 trillion gallons more than all water from Bay Delta for So. CA cities & Central Valley farmers. Delta supplies water to 2/3 of CA’s residents & 7 million acres of most production ag land in country. In some states, rainfall waters corn. But Iowa, N & S Dakota, NB, KS, CO, OK, AZ, ID, MT, TX, and CA – irrigation. (11 states) New water for corn: Increased acreage for corn Shift to corn from less water-intensive crops Ethanol production In 2009, economic crisis – cut back on plants Several companies filed for bankruptcy 24 plants shut down.
  • Energy-intensive economy [Photo of Google server farm.] Heat from thousands of computers Water cooled Energy for Internet: In 2006, 1-1/2% of electricity in US for server farms. Double by 2010. Theme: producing energy takes a lot of water. Petroleum, natural gas, coal and methane. Mining, refining, processing, and transporting Power plants consume a lot of water, whether coal-fired, nuclear, or concentrated solar thermal. VA Tech researchers – ethanol more than other types.
  • [Real and Surreal Solutions] Ch. 6 – Business as Usual Engineering/technical fix to shortages: Divert rivers Build dams Drill wells 1. Diversions have dried up rivers, including Colorado River. A dry river that is not an oxymoron should frighten all of us. But Colorado has plenty of company: Rio Grande and Los Angeles River. And rivers from Florida to Massachusetts and from Washington to Arizona. No one has documented number or names. Plus, degraded rivers from diminished, not depleted flows. And, harm to bays and estuaries from reduced fresh water. 2. Build more dams
  • We’ve been great at building dams. Babbitt Q. In US, only 60 rivers remain free-flowing. 75,000 dams at least 6 feet high (2-1/2 million smaller ones). Remarkable history, beginning with Hoover Dam on Colorado. Philosophy: Tame nature. We move water hundreds of miles, over mountains and through mountains. CAP: 330 miles and 2900 feet up.
  • [Graph of declines] It’s happening all over the country. And connected to surface flows.
  • Rules antithesis of property rights. More like circular firing squad. Other consequences of groundwater pumping [Photo of Earth fissure, AZ] Saltwater intrusion
  • And land subsidence [Photo of San Joaquin Valley]
  • And it’s not just western rivers. Consider the Ipswich River, in my home state of Massachusetts.
  • [Aaron Million’s Proposed Pipeline] $4 billion pipeline Privately financed! Energy costs to pump water over Rocky Mountains: $95 million/year.
  • [“Everybody complains about the weather,…”] Cloud Seeding Disperse silver iodide into clouds to cause rain. During Vietnam War, Operation Popeye - $21 million to halt North Vietnamese trucks by turning Ho Chi Minh Trail into mud. We still lost war. Field – lots of charlatans Yet, NOAA estimate – 66 programs in 10 states to supress hail or enhance rain. Advocates have religious fervor. (Weather Modification Association) Scientists skeptical or agnostic. Cause & effect is Achilles heel: Did seeding cause precipitation? Did seeding increase amount of precipitation? Eric Betterton, UA atmospheric sciences professor: can’t replicate experiment and can’t do controlled experiment. National Research Council (NRC) of National Academies, 2003 report: despite 6 decades of experience, “no convincing scientific proof” that it works. Still, desperate times inspire faith in unproven technology. Despite legal uncertainty and liability exposure.
  • Ch. 8 – Ancient Mariner’s Lament [Coleridge quote] [YDP region] Jim Cherry, Manager of Yuma Desalting Plant With earth 2/3 water, painfully obvious that solution is to remove the salts. JFK, 1961, “dwarf any other scientific accomplishments.” Desalination: 2 technologies Distillation. Mimics Sun. Life of Pi. Pot with metal umbrella larger than pot. Fresh water condenses on underside, then runs off. Useful for islands, cruise ships, and Middle East, where oil plentiful and water scarce. Filtration. Reverse osmosis. YDP’s Water Quality Improvement center – field tests of cutting-edge research. Pressure forces water through semi-permeable membranes, leaving salt ions behind in concentrated brine. Sounds simple. But devilishly challenging. Membranes: High tech, very expensive, and prone to fouling. Success tied to quality of pre-treated water. That’s why, w/2000 desal plants in US, ¾ treat brackish water or river water. Ocean water more challenging. Lots of interest, from start-ups to G.E. TX and CA actively support desal.
  • Technology: Can treat to potable, but people squeamish. San Diego floated idea but reported dubbed it “toilet-to-tap” and died quickly.” “Yuck” factor. Revived in 2006, but S.D. Tribune , “Your golden retriever may drink out of the toilet with no ill effects. But that doesn’t mean humans should do the same.” In 2007, Orange County Water District $480 million plant. R O, ultraviolet light, and peroxide. Recharge to aquifers. So “indirect.” New challenges in U.S. Despite War on Drugs, Americans love drugs! In 2006, 3.4 billion prescriptions. Flushed down toilets; not absorbed but excreted. Birth-control pills, hormone supplements, erectile dysfunction medicines. Treatment plants not remove pharmaceuticals and personal care products (“endocrine disruptors”). Interferes with hormones. Intersex fish. Who is a boy and who is a girl? Who’s from Mars? Venus? Would men in S.D. get erections from drinking Viagra-laden water? Absurd. But veritable cocktail experiment on selves. No studies of small doses of multiple compounds. Reclaimed water is viable way to address shortages. LA’s Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant – volume equal to 7 th largest river in US, but dumped into Pacific. Value. In 2007, Prescott Valley, AZ auctioned off effluent from plant. Winning bidder from NY - $67 million. Jaws dropped all over the West: $24,500 per acre foot.
  • Ch. 10 – Creative Conservation [Feinstein quote] Millions of us agree. $40 billion each year 270 billion gallons of water each week 23 million acres of lawns. Larger than CT, MA, RI, VT, and NH combined. Los Angeles – Manicured gardens in Beverly Hills. L.A. gets an average of 15” of rain/year; 3” more than Tucson. If government wants citizens to conserve, must set example. And citizens not blind to incongruity of pleas to conserve and approaches of new development. Govt. must link land use and water supply. Can govt. solve crisis with conservation? In some places, yes. Good illustrations: San Antonio. From 225 gpcpd to 136. “ Kick the Can” program. HETs – you.tube clip. San Ramon, CA. Food Service Technology Center. Efficient spray valve to wash dishes (2/3 of a restaurant’s water use). Saves 57,000 gallons per year. And energy b/c less hot water. Not everyone has signed on. S.D.’s Westin Horton Plaza and S.F.’s Westin St. Francis – 2 showerheads, each could take paint off walls. Self perceptions. Garrison Keillor, “All the children are above-average.” Water CASA study found 87% believed their water use was average or below-average. Caution: Regulatory red tape. CA program. Chuck Carr – pass test but workers often lack language skills. Elaborate monitoring programs – “sprinkler” police.
  • Green infrastructure. Walter J. Mugavin, Del Webb retirement community in Manchester, NJ. Couldn’t get permit for stormwater. So figured out how to keep & use it. Now all outdoor irrigation with stormwater. Driven not to save water but to get permit. Brad Lancaster – urban evangelist for harvesting Tucson, beard and ponytail. Inspiring. Teddy and Alice Dean. San Juan Island near Seattle. Harvest rainwater off roof. Greywater Guerillas Oakland. Sinks, showers & washing machines. Citizens’ noble efforts to live sustainably.
  • Ch. 13 – The Enigma of the Water Closet [Teddy Roosevelt quote] In 2006 film, “Borat,” Sacha Baron Cohen plays a journalist from Kazakhstan, who travels around the US, meeting real Americans not actors. Deep cultural norms. Southern lady, expert on etiquette. Table manners. Excuses himself to use restroom. On return, presents hostess with plastic bag of feces. Disgusted, she throws him out of the house. In real life, friend experience. Members of an indigenous cave-dwelling tribe from southern Mexico were visiting Tucson. My friend was host. Her guest used her bathroom. Perplexed. So he emptied his bowels in her bathtub rather than toilet. In his culture, no sane person would contaminate potable water with human waste. Reexamine how we dispose of human waste. Flushing toilets 1/3 of domestic indoor use. 24 gpcpd x 300 million Americans. 7 billion gallons each day. Remember “Peanuts,” Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football? Well, managers of treatment plants prepare water to drinking water quality, send it to our homes, where we urinate & defecate in it, then send it back to begin the process again. We treat all water to potable standards but use only 10% for drinking & cooking. It’s an enormous waste of money & energy. I know it’s a hard sell. Water law student said she’d clean her laundry with a rock before giving up her toilet. A New Approach
  • [Ann Coulter quote] Engineering made disposal of human waste so convenient (flick, press, wave, or triggering of sensor) that we take for granted something 2.5 billion people don’t have: basic sanitation. Indoor plumbing – 19 th century social status. Public health problem with volume of waste now mixed with water. Dumped into rivers because “running water purifies itself.” Flush toilets spread epidemics from upstream to downstream cities. Dysentery, cholera, small pox & typhoid. Meanwhile, water used jumped from 3-5 gpcpd to 150-200 in many cities. Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. Combined servers: sewage and stormwater in same pipe. 752 US cities have combined sewers. Louis Pasteur – germ theory Cities dumped raw sewage into rivers, thrusting responsibility for clean-up on downstream rivers. Until 1970s and Clean Water Act. Infrastructure disrepair! Philadelphia suffers 800 breaks in water & sewer lines a year. Chronic neglect of: 54,000 drinking water systems, with 700,000 miles of pipes. 17,000 wastewater plants, with 800,000 miles of pipes. Deferred repair & replacement cost estimates: ¼ to 1 trillion dollars. Garage door story. We shouldn’t simply rebuild it! Massive misallocation of resources. Treatment doesn’t remove endocrine-disrupting compounds. The flush toilet: Wastes water, energy & money Harms the environment And fails to protect public health.
  • Ann Coulter dismisses those who seek alternatives to “mankind’s single greatest invention” with a nasty epithet. They are “liberals” who advocate “living your own excrement.” Harsh words. Freud would have a field day. I won’t go there. Are there alternatives? Bronx Zoo: composting toilets, waterless urinals, and greywater gardens. Incinerating toilets. Catching on, but haven’t ironed out all the wrinkles. Need nat’l commitment to find alternative ways to dispose of human waste. Only fed’l govt. can lead such an initiative. Obama Administration Fiscal incentives Credits and subsidies A century after Teddy Roosevelt, it’s time to figure better way to dispose of sewage than by putting it in our drinking water. Ch. 14 – The Diamond-Water Paradox [Galileo quote] After decades of voluntary & mandatory conservation programs, need new approach. We should encourage conservation through price signals that create financial incentives to conserve. Quite simply, we must raise the price of water.
  • Ch. 15 – The Steel Deal A glimpse into the future – Geneva Steel WWII. US Govt. Outside Provo. Sold to US Steel. End of 20 th , steel industry in tailspin. Pittsburgh Chinese Detroit In 1999, filed for bankruptcy, reorganization failed. Liquidated assets in 2005. Substantial assets sold.
  • Water rights more valuable than all other assets combined! Sold some for power plant, bulk to Central Utah Water Conservancy District. Water wholesale doing bidding for SLC area municipalities, who were acting at behest of rational, savvy businessmen. No water. No deals. 47,400 a.f. Developers will pay all costs. Why? Utah State Engineer Jerry Olds stopped rubber-stamping permits for new diversions and wells. Broke relentless cycle of overuse. Developers must bring water to the table. By acquiring and retiring existing users’ rights. Utah lesson to rest of country. Hasn’t halted development but has insisted that development pay its own way. Santa Fe, New Mexico. Another e.g. City has run out of water. Aggressive conservation not enough. Demand offset. New construction must offset water required for development. Retrofit existing homes with low-flow toilets. One home = 8 toilets. Cottage industry of plumbers. Swap out, document and bundle together credits for developers. Spectacularly successful. But soon, most existing high-flow toilets replaced. City went further. Like Utah, bring water to the table. Water bank. Deposit rights in anticipation of seeking permit. Water brokers. Link up farmers and developers. To developers in UT and NM, new rules are just a cost of doing business. “No” is unacceptable. “Yes, but” is cost of doing business.
  • Ch. 18 – The Future of Farming Water marketing: NSF project 1987-2005: 3,232 sales or leases, involving 31maf Water for new demands from agriculture. Use 70-80% Low value, e.g., alfalfa. IID ten cuttings – summer 115 degrees. Critics non-food Me: Dairy cows – Bessie – direct food production CA: 1 af for alfalfa $60; same af in Silicon Valley, almost $1M Critics of ag: milking the govt. Farmers suffering from own productivity Americans – cheapest food in world, under 10% of income Declined since New Deal (25%) Increased productivity not increased incomes to farmers In 1950, farmers got 41 cents of each $. Today, less than 20 cents. Plus more expensive to farm.
  • Farm crisis: # of farms declined from 2.2 million in 1993 to 2 million today. Water transfers make it worse? No, b/c fallowing least productive lands B/c use proceeds to improve efficiency, and B/c change crop mix. Remarkably, farmers have sold millions of acre-feet of water, but aggregate farm income – held constant for inflation – has not declined. Loss of farmland critical national problem. 53 million acres, between 1990 & 2006. Farmers responding nimbly: Vanguard agriculture (new ways to grow and market produce). Value-added products; e.g., almonds. From alfalfa to dates, fruits & vegetables. Robby Nickerson, WMIDD
  • Head lettuce – labor intensive. Baby lettuce – Higher value Remarkable harvesting operation Fertilize cut field; no pesticides Rush to market Triple-wash and vacuum bag Fresh Express Earthbound Express Hydroponics Vanguard ag in Montana Timeless Seeds: David Oien – organic. Father warned: only person he’d be able to sell to – his mother. Persisted – black beluga lentils to Whole Foods. Bob Quinn – Egyptian wheat: Korasan, or Kamut Dean Folkwold: Wheat Montana Farms. From seed to sandwich! Innovative approaches not option for all farmers. But suggests remarkable adaptability of American farmers.
  • Ch. 19 – Environmental Transfers What will water marketing do to the environment? Can environmental organizations effectively compete in this market? Two stories: 1. Janet Neuman, OR Water Trust Use land trust as model to secure water to augment flows. Spread to WA, CA, MT, NV & CO. Focus on small, critical streams.
  • [JOHN DAY RIVER BASIN MAP] Austin Ranch, Middle Fork, John Day River Pat & Hedy Voigt. Win-win. Sold portion of rights. Turn off irrigation on July 20 th each year. Forego second cutting of alfalfa. Received $700,000. Use part to modernize irrigation system. Leave 6.5 mgd in river. Spawning habitat for endangered salmon & steelhead. Major funding, BPA. Columbia Basin Water Transactions Program. $4 million/yr. for deals such as CWT/Voigts. Tip of iceberg. Between 1998-2005, NGOS & govt. spent $300 million on 1000 water transfers. Laura Ziemer, TU’s Montana Water Project Energetic lawyer Stan Bradshaw, fellow lawyer Spunky young woman – crusty old Montana ranchers Ziemer: find common ground Financial incentives Poorman Creek, tributary to Blackfoot River/farmers for A River Runs Through It. Badly dewatered. Last mile before river, diversion dries it up. Need to give farmers incentives to improve irrigation efficiency. In U.S., 63 million acres irrigated but only 4 million use drip and laser leveling.
  • Ch. 20 – Buffalo’s Lament: A pitch for quantified, transferable water rights. 19 th century, buffalo: 30 million to 1000. Everyone to blame, esp. commercial hunters. No restrictions – incentive to harvest indiscriminately. Same thing to…. Tragedy of commons: limitless access to finite resource. Solution: Alaska habitat fishery Dangerous. Bad financial returns. Ruinous competition. IFQ’s Price increased $1 lb. to $5.50. Safer. Fishery healthier. Do same thing for water: Water rights (riparian, prior app. & g.w.) encourage exploitation. Reform by quantifying water rights and making them transferable. Voluntary transfers rather than govt. mandates (that users would resist & defeat). * Markets: Ownership invests owner with incentive to protect. When was last time you washed a rental car? Use property more productively. Encourage conservation (of benefit from sale). If could turn clock back, perhaps not create private property rights to water. But too late – USSC = Sporhaese. Markets produce winners and losers. Therefore, need govt. oversight. Regulated market. (Indeed, market is product of govt. decision to create & protect property rights.) Govt. protect 3d parties and environment. Prevent externalities.
  • In 2008, commercial fishing season for salmon cancelled for CA & OR. Water connected to economic health of coastal communities. Redefine role of water: valuable, exhaustible resource. Link zoning decisions to available supply. Reform population policy and ag policy. Water must become critical element in energy policy. Reforms I advocate include: Encouraging creative conservation Using price signals Creating market incentives Reexamining how we dispose of human waste Requiring developers to pay their own way Reconsidering the location of wastewater plants Separating storm water from sewer water Creating infrastructure with dual pipes to supply potable and reclaimed water Abandoning business as usual (more dams, diversions and wells) Recognizing the link between water and energy Appreciating the critical role played by water in the economy Removing barriers to water transfers while providing for government oversight of them Creating incentives for homeowners and others to harvest water Stimulating alternative waste disposal technologies Metering water use Securing water for the environment
  • Reforms I advocate include: Encouraging creative conservation Using price signals Creating market incentives Reexamining how we dispose of human waste Requiring developers to pay their own way Reconsidering the location of wastewater plants Separating storm water from sewer water Creating infrastructure with dual pipes to supply potable and reclaimed water Abandoning business as usual (more dams, diversions and wells) Recognizing the link between water and energy Appreciating the critical role played by water in the economy Removing barriers to water transfers while providing for government oversight of them Creating incentives for homeowners and others to harvest water Stimulating alternative waste disposal technologies Metering water use Securing water for the environment
  • These reforms offer several options that move us toward sustainable water use, free up water for critical new demands, protect the environment by reallocating water from low-value agricultural use, ensure a bright but more water-efficient future for farmers, demand that govt. protect third parties from harm as a result of water transfers, and begin to recognize water as a valuable and exhaustible resource. Individuals, businesses, and all levels of govt. in the United States have their roles to play, but the most profound change must come from an invigorated federal role in water management. Congress needs to: Find out what’s going on: Data collection Support USGS Get federal house in order Overlapping jurisdictions & mandates Initiative on disposal of human waste (in tandem with infrastructure overhaul) Incentives to states Reform farm policy and phase out subsidies Carrots and sticks: Tax on water. States…. [FILL IN] Local government…… [FILL IN] Individuals…… [FILL IN] Before crisis becomes catastrophe, embark on new course with firm resolve and steady confidence. We have tools available. Need will and commitment.

Unquenchable Unquenchable Presentation Transcript

  • UNQUENCHABLE ROBERT GLENNON Morris K. Udall Professor of Law and Public Policy University of Arizona [email_address] www.rglennon.com
  •  
  • America’s Water Crisis and What To Do About It
    • The Crisis
    • Real and Surreal Solutions
    • A New Approach
    • “ There is no lack of water in the Mojave Desert unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.”
            • Edward Abbey
  •  
  •  
  •  
    • “ Pat, I just have to have a water feature. I just have to. Don’t tell me I can’t do it. Just tell me how to do it.”
    • Steve Wynn
    • “ When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”
    • Benjamin Franklin (1774)
    • The Crisis
  • Signs of the Crisis Since 2007
    • Colorado
    • Orme, Tennessee
    • Lake Mead
    • Bowater Paper Company
    • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    • California’s Central Valley
    • Lake Superior
    • Commercial fishing off the coasts of California and Oregon
    • Idaho, Arizona and Montana
    • Riverside County, California
    • Atlanta, Georgia
  •  
  •  
  •  
    • “ This drought is not particularly different from previous ones.”
    • Todd Rasmussen University of Georgia professor
    • of water resources and hydrology
  •  
    • Supply and Demand
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
    • Real and Surreal Solutions
  •  
    • Ogallala Aquifer
    • Groundwater Declines
    • 1950-2005
  •  
  •  
    • Riddle: Where does water in a river come from if it hasn’t rained recently?
    • Answer: Groundwater.
  • Sinkhole in west-central Florida caused by groundwater pumping Sinkhole in west-central Florida caused by groundwater pumping
  • Ipswich River, Massachusetts
    • 2003
    • 2005
  •  
    • “ Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it.”
    • Mark Twain
    • “ Water, water every where,
    • Nor any drop to drink.”
    • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    • “ Your golden retriever may drink out of the toilet with no ill effects. But that doesn’t mean humans should do the same.”
    • San Diego Tribune
    • “ I believe it is our God-given right as Californians to be able to water gardens and lawns.”
    • U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (2004)
  •  
  • A New Approach
    • “ Civilized people should be able to dispose of sewage in a better way than by putting it in the drinking water.”
    • Teddy Roosevelt (1910)
    • “ The flush toilet is mankind’s single greatest invention.”
    • Ann Coulter
    • Most Americans pay less for water than we do for cell phone service or cable television.
  • We’re entering an era of water reallocation.
  •  
  • GENEVA STEEL
    • 1,750 acres of prime real estate: $ 46.8 million
    • Steel mills machinery & equipment to Chinese firm: $ 40.0 million
    • Iron ore mine to mining company: $ 10.0 million
    • Pollution reduction credits: $ 4.0 million
    • TOTAL $100.8 million
    • 5. Water rights: $102.5 million
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  • The Buffalo’s Lament
    • CONCLUSION: BLUEPRINT FOR REFORM
  • Reforms I advocate include:
    • Encouraging creative conservation
    • Using price signals
    • Creating market incentives
    • Reexamining how we dispose of human waste
    • Requiring developers to pay their own way
    • Reconsidering the location of wastewater plants
    • Separating storm water from sewer water
    • Creating infrastructure with dual pipes to supply potable and reclaimed water
    • Abandoning business as usual (more dams, diversions and wells)
    • Recognizing the link between water and energy
    • Appreciating the critical role played by water in the economy
    • Removing barriers to water transfers while providing for government oversight of them
    • Creating incentives for homeowners and others to harvest water
    • Stimulating alternative waste disposal technologies
    • Metering water use
    • Securing water for the environment
    • “ Anything else you’re interested in is not going to happen if you can’t breathe the air and drink the water. Don’t sit this one out. Do something. You are by accident of fate alive at an absolutely critical moment in the history of our planet.”
    • Carl Sagan