Helping Our Peninsula's Environment


How Can Conserving Water Harm Our Environment ?

(c) Copyright 2001 David Dilworth

Paradoxically, Water Conservation can actually increase water use.

1) Developers demand and then get all the water you save - and then some.

In the 1970s the Monterey Peninsula exceeded its water supply by a significant amount. When the 1977 drought occurred the state imposed rationing on the area and declared a moratorium on new building.

In the 1980s and early 1990s Developers went to the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District and complained about our "unused" drought reserves. (These drought reserves occurred because Peninsula residents were conserving water better, using less water per person, than anywhere else in California.)

The developers cried "Look at all that water no one is using. Give it to us for more development." The newly created Water Board gave it to the developers. This permanently increased the number of water connections (by 8,000 and counting) and water use.

Furthermore, Developers, Monterey County and Cities like Pacific Grove collude in shell games with water "trading" so they can get water connections for physical drinking water that doesn't exist either physically or legally.

Both of these activities increase the number of water connections and when the immediate threat of drought lessens - water use resumes at a higher level.

For example Pacific Grove claimed that retrofitting their Golf Course with water saving equipment would result in a 13 acre foot per year water saving from an average use of 68 af. In fact their water use went up from 68 to 82 af of water per year. In the meantime (the four years since the water credits were created) the city of Pacific Grove had given away that fictitious 13 acre feet of saved water to build new houses AND increased water use at the golf course by 14 acre feet. This resulted in a net loss of about 27 acre feet of water from the taps of residents and the Carmel River. (Monterey Peninsula Water Management District Board packet Sept 18, 200 pg 188)

2) Second, Residential Water Bills go up.

When you use less water, the Monterey Peninsula for-profit water company (Cal-Am) complains to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that they aren't selling as much water as they used to - so they "need" to raise their rates. The PUC has always approved their rate increases.

"Several water agencies in the San Francisco Bay area raised their water rates to compensate for a substantial decline in revenues resulting from reduced water use by their customers [in the 1976 - 1977 drought.]" The California Water Atlas, California Office of Planning and Research, 1978-1979, ISBN 913232-68-8

3) Responsible Citizens - People who Conserve GET LESS WATER during Rationing than those who don't.

The amount of water residential users are allowed during Rationing is based on how much they normally use. Responsible consumers conserve and use less than a water waster. Yet those who waste water only have to cut back by the same percentage as those who have been conserving. So water wasters benefit by getting a higher use limit during rationing than those who conserve.

This shows how conservation can have its own harmful water impacts. To halt increasing water pumping - a moratorium on new water hookups must accompany any water conservation effort.


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This Page Last Updated 7/6/02