This goes too far

This is nuts. The EPD wants to stop people from filling up their swimming pools because of the droughts.

What it means, basically, is that rich homeowners will be able to have swimming pools because they can afford the well water or out of state water to fill up their pools. Middle income and lower income families will not be able to do so. Likewise, prohibiting pool refills will devalue homes that have pools — who wants an empty pit or algae swamp in their backyard?!

This is nuts.

Had they taken Jace’s idea on market based water pricing, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

It’s time to shut down the EPD.

30 comments

  1. souldrift says:

    No, it doesn’t. We didn’t plan for this disaster, but we need to act before it becomes a total friggin’ catastrophe. “The market” isn’t bailing us out of this one.

    I’m behind this decision.

  2. Still Looking says:

    Do you want to swim or would like to have water in the toilet when you flush?

    If we don’t get heavy rains in this winter and spring in Hall, Forsyth, Lumpkin, White, Habersham and Dawson counties, Lake Lanier will not be refilled sufficiently to meet the drinking water needs of metro Atlanta.

    Nobody wants more regulation, but we are potentially facing a serious health crisis.

  3. Jace Walden says:

    No amount of government is going to make it rain. Let’s market price water, get the government out of it and we won’t have to worry about Sonny Perdue hosting public spectacles and Indian rain dances.

  4. StevePerkins says:

    I support true market-based pricing for water usage above a minimum needs threshold (i.e. poor people and average users pay the rates we’re used to, while the rate starts to increase dramatically for usage above X gallons a month). However, until your faithful GOP legislature gets bored of talking about tax schemes, and actually does anything substantive on water policy, piecemail usage restrictions are the only tool available.

    Words… cannot… begin… to… describe… how RETARDED you people sound bitching about low-flow toilets in the building codes, or people having to go without their own swimming pools for awhile (exactly how many “lower income families” have private swimming pools in their backyard, Erick?!?). The colossally self-absorbed attitude people flaunt on Peach Pundit is why environmentalism is one of those issues I break with my libertarian peers. People expect everyone else to sacrifice so they won’t have to change their own status quo behavior one iota. With Atlanta metro area sitting atop 3 or 4 months of water supply before evacuations would be necessary, this just absolutely blows my mind.

  5. Hank Reardan says:

    Erick
    I agree with you on the market base stuff being a Libertarian but I dont understand why you have to throw the Rich people under the bus in the debate.Just because the can afford to get around big government dont bet them up. From what I understand your city is the one that would sell me that water if I need it 🙂

  6. cheapseats says:

    Bravo, Mr. Perkins!

    Actually, you can take this whole example a step further by just substituting almost any of the following for “water crisis”:
    – energy
    – traffic
    – taxes
    – health care
    – education
    etc, etc, etc…

    The folks want what they want and they want it right damn now and forever and they don’t care if nobody else has any of it as long as they get whatever they want.

    This is what passes for “conservatism” in the minds of the general public these days and is one of the top reasons why the luster of “conservative” is completely tarnished.

    Seems like a complete failure of parenting to me but, I’m old.

  7. Paul_in_Sandy_Springs says:

    I don’t own a swimming pool, have low-flow toilets throughout the house, and have no issue spending more if I use over a reasonable minimum amount of water in a given month. I’ve not watered my yard since before the water restrictions started this summer and saw my new spring plantings not make it through the summer. So I’ve had to learn not to plant then (yeah, I grew up in the North, sorry). And forget about private wells — too expensive and doesn’t help the drought by pulling even more water from the aquifer.

    But it does go back to supply and demand — if it costs more, we’ll use less in the long run. I agree that a minimum amount of water usage is required for basic living, and filling pools in a drought is hard to justify. So escalating rates for water above a minimum usage level makes sense. Don’t see this happening for gas or other commodities, but water can be priced locally as there’s only one bulk supplier in town. 🙂

    I lived through water rationing in Virginia Beach in the early ’80’s when it was 50 gal/day/person, with steep penalties for over-usage. They got through it then; hope we can do the same, but it will likely take more action to cut usage further, either with rising rates or more onerous restrictions.

  8. juliobarrios says:

    I love how some folks act as if “the market” is some very strange, untested concept. All that we are talking about is raising the upper pain threshold on the price of water so it matches the current and forecasted scarcity. Keep raising the pain and I guarantee you that folks will conserve water.

    It’s a complete joke to ask the public to voluntarily conserve a commodity that is priced as if there is an unlimited supply. Sure there will be a few citizens who responsibly conserve, but the majority of the citizens will ignore the requests. A $600 water bill will set somebody straight very quickly!

    It’s a wonderful concept that forces people to self-regulate. You also don’t have government bodies determining which hobbies are water worthy and which are not. Perhaps one household really values long hot showers and will choose not to fill their pool or water the lawn, but maybe another would take 2 minute showers and flush once a day with the promise of pool time or a rose garden. Why should the government say 45 minute showers are fine, but swimming pools are not?

    I promise you that quadrupling the upper end of our water rates would have a far more immediate and broad impact than any of these other mamby pamby, unenforceable, and slow implementation solutions such as forced retrofitting of homes when sold; new rules about lawn watering, car washes, and pools; and voluntary requests.

    If it doesn’t have the needed impact, then you quadruple upper prices again.

  9. BubbaRich says:

    When Jace was describing his concept before, he specifically was excluding any sort of tiered system. And I pointed out then that any price that would dissuade some people from filling their pools and whatever that house was doing with all that water last year, that price would keep poor people from drinking water, cooking water, and bathing water. Has Jace modified that plan?

    How many short showers would you need to take to fill a pool up and water your garden, and to keep filling it up when it evaporates?

  10. juliobarrios says:

    I don’t know about Jace, but every single water pricing idea I’ve ever heard involves a tiered system that allows for people to get a minimum amount of water at a reasonable price.

  11. StevePerkins says:

    Now don’t get me wrong, I think that market-based pricing of water is the best possible approach. I specifically said that usage restrictions were simply “the only tool we have to work with”, because the State government is too busy masturbating each other over property tax reform to take any substantive action toward changing water policy.

    However, whether you can’t fill your private swimming pool due to a usage restriction, or whether you can’t do it because the market price of doing so would be astronomical, the end result either way is that people are going to have to go without swimming pools. My main point was simply that people are being delusional in thinking that the water crisis will pass by without them having to sacrifice at all, or take personal responsibility for any of their lifestyle choices.

    I believe that pretty much every serious water proposal I’ve heard involved tiered pricing. That is, affordable pricing up to a basic needs level (so the poor aren’t without water), with a dramatically increased rate for heavy users. There may be a couple of bloggers who’ve floated the notion of flat pricing. However, that’s just a cultural thing with hard-core conservatism or libertarianism… either hating the poor outright, or being middle-class yourself and utterly oblivious to the position of anyone who’s not you. The mainstream doesn’t go that far.

  12. Common Sense says:

    Does anyone remember the engergy crisis in CA? The fundamental issue is that water, like power, is not a normal comididty. If apples get too expensive you buy some other fruit. Unless we’re all going to drink Brawndo (watch Idiotocracy people) there is no alternative.

    We need to use less water, period. We need to spend the money to increase suply. That anyone thinks creating a system where rich people can pay more money so they can fill their pool will ever actually lead to less usage is mind boggling.

  13. juliobarrios says:

    It’s mindboggling to think there are people who don’t believe that folks would take shorter showers if their water bill tripled because of it.

    You keep trying to introduce and unnecessary class-warfare argument.

    You haven’t addressed the fact that everyone here is saying you keep the bare minimum priced at a lower tier and then raise the price exponentially. It’s not about a lack of alternatives, raising the price on the high end will have the most immediate and far reaching impact on the water crisis.

    There is no bleeding heart argument, the poor folks will still be able to have drinking water and it’s not about rich people gaming the system.

  14. eburke says:

    I’ve been waiting for the Republican General Assembly and Governor to do something about the bureaucracy, espcieally EPD. As of date, it has only grown larger and more powerful during the current regime.

  15. BubbaRich says:

    juliobarrios:

    I don’t think anybody with sense is opposing that plan. I’ve seen several nutcase libertarians opposing it in this blog, but most of them are frontpage bloggers.

  16. juliobarrios says:

    I’ve been fairly amazed at how some folks have tried to demagogue this thing into a “rich people and their huge lawns and swimming pools” issue. Getting rich people not to fill up their swimming pools will have very little impact on the crisis. The masses are going to have to react to the crisis and the only immediate solution I see is pricing. 10 minute showers would suddenly turn into 3 minute showers and overall water usage would drop dramatically.

    I think this really speaks to a conservative versus liberal mindset. The conservative sets a price that is more in-line with the scarcity of the commodity (making sure a minimum amount is available at a reasonable price) where the liberal wants to be directly involved in the water usage debating and creating lists as to what is acceptable and what is not: 30 minute showers okay, washing car outdoors not okay, washing car indoors okay, swimming pools not okay, hot tubs with grey water okay, etc..

    The liberal is not really concerned with how to quickly reduce water usage, the real motive is how to demagogue the issue and make sure “rich people” don’t scam the system.

  17. Jace Walden says:

    Bubba,

    When did I say that I opposed a tiered pricing system? I promoted a market-based system, but I did not speak against a tiered pricing system. Anything would be an improvement over our current system.

  18. Jace Walden says:

    The only potential problem I see with a tiered system is that it relies on the same tired old bureaucrats who got us in this current mess to set an artificial (i.e. not market-based) tier. It’s just more of the same old dog trying new tricks.

  19. BubbaRich says:

    There you go again, Jace.

    This REQUIRES an artificial tiered system. The market doesn’t care that a half-million people are getting diseases, sharing diseases for failing to bathe, or dehydrating, as long as the product is being sold to _somebody_ at a price that’s acceptable to sellers.

    I’m not quite sure why you’re trying to deny you want something that stupid at the same time you’re explaining that you want something that stupid.

    Unless, of course, you can propose a purely market mechanism that will create tiers so that poor people can get their water, despite the fact that wealthier people would easily price it up out of their reach. And I don’t consider the inevitable Water Riots to be a purely market mechanism, even if that’s what you’d cause.

  20. StevePerkins says:

    How exactly would a true “market based” approach work for setting prices anyway, given that there’s only one (government-run) supplier in the market?

    I think the “market based” language is just playing with buzzwords, to sweeten the bitter taste a little for hard-care conservatives and libertarians. We’re really just talking about jacking up the rate for a public utility in a time of scarcity.

  21. Hank Reardan says:

    What I( if I was the Government) would do is lease the water system to a private company in the lease each house would be guarenteed at certain amount at a set price after that. Then the private compant could first work out the fat in the system. Then I would offer to buy water from people who would conserve and sell it the rich evil swimming pool people at a rate slightly higher than what I bought it far.Then I would set up practices of collecting water on building that have large roofs and use it to flush it . Freeing up more water to sell to the evil Rich people. I would then look at giving business a discout if they use waterless toilet in the mens bathrooms.I might would over to subsudize the purchase of sisterns for people to water thier gardens.
    I believe someone who is in this business could come up with a million ways to do it better than the govrnment and still supply those godly poor people who need us, the gods of water (medical needs, education, retirement etc) to meet thier every need.

  22. juliobarrios says:

    Steve-

    I think you are dead-on with your comments in this thread. You’re right in that there is no real “market” price for the water and we are just talking about raising the pain threshold until water consumption reduces to a level that is in-line with forecasted scarcity.

  23. Hank Reardan says:

    Julio
    What you need is finding a why to meet somecare on how to get the most of what you have now and a way to increase the supply in the future. It sounds like most of you guys think the government would do this best. I strongly disagree.Water is one of those things that would be hard to give control up over. You would have to privatize at first with some restriction but as you moved forward the private company I believe would solve prolems in a way the government could not. It is like the countries that have the government own oil fields versus the one that have private companies in control. It is always those most important things we can not let the government lose control over but in the end you end up with not enough and a inferior product (see school system). You will continue to have proplems with the water as long as trhe government controls it.

  24. BubbaRich says:

    If we had a tight, functional water system, then we could consider some sort of multi-provider operation as the electric power system works in Norway and Finland, at least. Distribution MUST still be a geographic monopoly, though. I’ll hope you can figure out several reasons why without me, but ask if you have problems. And even a multi-provider system has a million problems, since there is ZERO motivation to improve the quality of the product you’re distributing, since it’s going to be mixed with everybody else’s. So you have exactly the same situation as you do now for quality and equipment, but you also have a motivation for fraud for profit in a private company.

    But now I’m a little confused. Yes, Hank, I can see you feel the same way about spelling as you do about water service. But your spelling and typing are so bad in this post that I’m wondering if your misspelling of your name was accidental.

  25. Still Looking says:

    The single most effective tool in conserving water is pricing. This is the finding of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District. Their first priority has been the promotion of a new rate structure, which all of the mjor water suppliers around Atlanta have adopted. However the new rates have not had an impact. The AJC did a good story on this in December
    http://www.ajc.com/search/content/metro/stories/2007/12/22/waterrates1222.html
    The story also talks about innovative pricing in other regions. The pricing in metro Atlanta will have to be more aggresive to have an impact.

    Are you ready to support your City Council and County Commissioners raising fees?

  26. jkga says:

    Hank Reardan-

    Your ideas about privatization sound great, but it sounds a heck of a lot like what Enron executives were saying about electrical power about eight years ago. I think that as citizens and consumers, we have good reason to be skeptical of utility privatization.

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