Economics - General Public Policy

San Diego Water Rules

Southern California is in the midst of a drought.  What is the city doing to conserve water?  They are resorting to new rules and ‘water cops‘.

  • Apartments, Condos and Businesses can water: Monday, Wednesday & Friday
  • Homes with odd-numbered addresses can water: Sunday, Tuesday & Thursday
  • Homes with even-numbered addresses can water: Saturday, Monday & Wednesday
  • Apartments, Condos and Businesses can water: Monday, Wednesday & Friday
  • On your watering day, you may only water before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
  • Landscape irrigation using sprinklers is limited to no more than ten minutes maximum per watering station per assigned day.

Isn’t there an easier way?  Of course.  The answer is to raise the price of using water.  I’ve broached this idea in two previous posts.   Charging more for water (especially during a drought) will accomplish the same goal as these arcane rules set out to do: reduce water demand.

Watering at night or early in the morning saves water because less water evaporates at this time of day. If water is more expensive, people will voluntarily water early or late in the day to save water.  Further, a higher price of water compel people to 1) water less and 2) plant vegetation that requires less water such as succulents.  This way people will water when they please, but will water less often and with less water.

Economists believe that getting prices right will lead to efficient market allocation; in the case of water conservation, economists are almost certainly correct.


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