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How to Motivate Conservation

There is an object lesson for the BWD in the fact that high gas prices during the summer of 2008 had motorists scrambling for ways to conserve.

In San Diego County:

The number of van pools was nearing record levels and growing fast;

Interest in van and car pooling was so high that computers at the region's ride-sharing clearinghouse have been overwhelmed;

Mass transit use was up significantly, as high as 18 percent since the start of the year on some routes;

Demand for bike lockers at transportation hubs was surging;

As mass transit ridership grew, so did the number of cars jamming commuter park and ride lots instead of freeways.

Similar trends couls be observed across the country and nationwide sales of pick-ups and SUVs were down by 25% and 30% respectively through June, with demand for fuel-efficient vehicles far exceeding supply.

Does anyone seriously believe that any of these positive changes would have come about in such a remarkably short time without the iron discipline of high gas prices?

Water too has a value, but consumers have been insulated from it. In California, however, that may soon change.

The $9.3 billion California water bond plan calls for half the cost of water projects to be borne by agencies that would benefit from additional supplies; the other half would come from taxpayers. Lester Snow, the governor's top water adviser, has said "we shouldn't be subsidizing water. The public is going to pay for public benefits, and those that get water from [water projects] will pay full costs."

The state gets it; BWD doesn’t.  When BWD caved on tiered rates they forfeited the only leverage they had to enforce water conservation.  It ought to be a simple matter for BWD to observe the sudden, dramatic, and salutary societal changes caused by sharp increases in oil prices and apply the inherent logic of that development to curbing wasteful use of Borrego’s ever diminishing water supply; but, apparently, it’s not simple enough for the worthies at BWD.

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