Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Possible solutions to protect 'our' water

Early this morning I'm lounging in my bed and rubbing the sleep from my eyes and a feeling of apprehension fills my body. As I look towards the bathroom on my way to answer nature's early morning call I can't help but wonder if all the water in Mohave County was used up overnight. I'm confident that the water chamber will flush... but the worry is will the reservoir fill back up.

The good news is that the chamber filled up just like it always has. Better still was the response when I opened the valve that allows for the flow of water to the shower head. One of my simple pleasures in life is showering in my custom shower area that includes a rain shower head styled fixture. Kinda looks like this...

So needless to say the day started off well, all the water I needed I used.

But tomorrow is another day and as for the apprehensive feelings about the morning question of 'will there or won't there be water' in the plumbing system in my house... not sure if that will ever go away.

You see folks, the water worry warts have made their points... they have the upper hand in the debate on the extreme scarcity of water remaining in the underground aquifers. I mean come on... you've seen the one well chart and read all the rhetoric. Very convincing. Any day now, no more water.

So now what?? Well I think we use our heads to come up with possible solutions that will no doubt protect 'our' water sources so that I can continue to take showers underneath my fancy rain shower head and hopefully reduce the early morning apprehensions about said water. I've decided to join forces, sort of, with the water extremists... err... I mean our neighbors so that we can secure water for our own ego-centric reasons.

Off the top of my head, here's a few ideas that I'll throw out there that should lead to the protection of water supplies in this area for centuries to come.

First up... a government mandated moratorium on new construction projects that include plumbing systems for water. Granted that the plumbing contractors in this area won't be happy about it, but anyone in the outdoor shed industry might see a boost in sales. One washes out the other.

Beyond the obvious affect this would have on our effort to save water, some 13 million acre feet of it under our collective feet in Mohave County, this moratorium would absolutely kill the construction market locally... if it isn't already dead in the first place. Any tradesman would have to find a job building sheds or relocate out of the area. I think most would do the latter and therefore less neighbors using water (more showers under my rain shower head for me!!). Other jobs and opportunity would further dry up causing more to either enter the shed business or move away... leaving behind more glorious water for me to use as I see fit.

I'm sorry if this sounds extreme, but look at the water chart offered as empirical evidence that explosive growth caused a deep decline of the water level in that well over the last forty some years. Most of that depletion can be directly linked to new construction. Only another 400 plus feet of water is left in that well. Could run dry any day now.

Again, just an idea off the top of my head. Maybe this idea starts a rally, we'll see.

Well, if the moratorium idea is too much a heavy handed government kind of thing we could try using some free market solutions.

For instance...

Fellow water extremists... err... I mean friendly neighbors, in an effort to protect 'our' water resources -- make that our precious water resources... we could band together -- pool our money -- and buy up all that property that is currently listed for sale. Think about it people... it is a buyers market right now.

Once we bought out all of the available property we can be assured that no other human will have access to the precious and therefore there will be more for us to use in our fancy showers and such. How will you use the 13 million acre feet??

Of course this plan would require tons of capital, up front, but isn't protecting 'our' precious water worth it?? Come on... reach deep into your bank account... do it for 'our' water.

Again, ideas off the top of my head... feel free to join in the brainstorm. Let's collaborate.

I've heard it said that in Arizona the general factors that lead to population growth are; cheap land, cheap energy, and cheap water.

Piggy-backing on my previous idea, land is getting cheaper by the month (according to the market indicators) so that could lead to more people moving here. And since it is unlikely that us few, but proud, protectors of 'our' water supply could actually buy up all the available property in the county -- maybe we look to the cost of water.

My water utility bill last month showed that the portion of the bill for the water I used (for showers and running through my sprinklers -- another guilty pleasure) was $29. Look, I may be a working Realtor in a tough market thats been reduced to home cooked meals with the main ingredient consisting of Top Ramen noodles, but I can still afford a measly $29 for the water I use.

With 'our' water resource being as extremely scarce as it is, there is no excuse for this cheap and rather inexpensive water bill... is there?? We live in a desert for crying out loud. Come on... aren't we sincere in protecting the precious?? Collectively we may not be able to buy all the available property but we can afford to double our water bill, can't we?? The 'our' water should be at the top of the most expensive water list.

Since the City of Kingman is the water utility provider, I think City Council might go for this idea as it would surely create more revenue needed for governmental services. It is at least as good an idea to bring in an increase of revenue flow as the 'Shop Here!' program currently in existence.

Solutions people, solutions. Raising the cost of the water could kill two birds with one stone... increase city revenues and perhaps keep people from relocating to the area. People will see that we have cheap land... but not cheap water. They'll simply go somewhere else to start a business, offer opportunity, be a friendly neighbor... or some other water wasting endeavor.

Earlier I mentioned that I was 'sort of' joining forces with the water worry warts. Looking at my off the top of my head ideas I realize that there are real costs associated with said ideas. To this point, I haven't heard a water worry wart offer to increase the total cost on themselves to save the precious 'our' water. It's doubtful that the true, honest to goodness, water worry wart types would want to incur increased burdens to save the precious so in essence they would not welcome me into their movement. Not with these ideas.

You see, while they themselves don't want to carry any additional burdens, they seem all too happy to burden anyone else that may want to use 'our' water. That is nice work if you can get it, but truthfully the least burdensome solutions to potential problems with water supply reside in growth. That's right, more people being drawn to the area will create more opportunity to protect the water, especially commercial and industrial interests. Those that make investments into the area will also invest in improving potential solutions as the real need arises. This helps to offset the additional burdens of the citizens that use water.

There's been talk in recent years of building a pipeline and multiple desalinization plants to supply the Phoenix and Tuscon areas of Arizona. Read this article here for more information and notice that they are talking about 40 years into the future for these sorts of solutions. The main advantage they have down there is a better acceptance for growth and that means many more people will be contributing to the costs associated with bringing in precious water. I'm assuming that Arizona will still be mostly a desert in 40 years and the Phoenix and Tucson area will certainly need more water to serve the population as time goes on. So at least some are looking towards solutions right now.

We are no different here in Mohave County... we need solutions. First we need to set aside the scare tactics being used to get the fine folks all riled up about whether or not they'll be able to shower in the morning. I've shared plenty of data in recent posts and all of it says we do have time on our side... as long as we start looking for real solutions to the long term potential problems. It might be as simple as our own pipeline and de-sal plant in 50 years from now to replenish the aquifers. The cost may sound really high right now... but if other states and/or communities begin to utilize de-sal plants and run pipelines, I'll bet that by the time we really need one of our own the cost factor would be reduced a great deal in future dollar terms. Not to mention what other technology breakthroughs that may be in the offing even in the nearer future eroding costs further.

Make no mistake though, there will be costs and the folks here will pay those costs -- however many folks are left. We can either share the burden with future generations (if we really care) or we could leave it up to them to create their own solutions.

If the community could adapt a solutions oriented approach, instead of an extreme protectionist approach, then we could all work towards delivering the needed resource of water for many generations to come... instead of just thinking about our own selfish needs.

(trust me, it beats a photo me in my shower)

No comments: