Sunday, May 17, 2015

Drought and Big Water in Politics.

While the rest of the state is facing a crisis this summer, it seems once again the Cascades are protecting most of Puget Sound. Interactive drought monitoring maps are available at

The economics of water is different than other commodities. Its pricing is based not on the availability of the resource, but the rate of consumption.

If the public panics and begins to ration their own water, following the example set by many California communities, the utility company begins to lose money and must raise the rate to make ends meet.

Would the act of raising the rate itself make consumers use less water? Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) according to King 5 is "unlikely to raise rates."

Looking at the drought monitor map it's clear that Puget Sound is not in any danger, so why does Governor Insless want to include the Seattle area as part of the statewide drought declaration? A recent report by may shed some light on this:
But the topic that received the most attention was the nation's patchwork of rapidly deteriorating municipal water systems, which are estimated to need more than $1 trillion worth of upgrades. This, water executives said, not only represented a historic opportunity for their businesses, but could also be used as leverage to finally convince Americans to cough up more money for their tap water.
There are at least eight water bottling plants located in the Puget Sound area. How many are owned by Nestlé? Who knows? It looks like conglomerates such as Nestlé, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are circling the smaller locally owned water bottling companies like vultures. Mint Press reports their unwavering activity despite drought conditions affecting local residents.
“Unfortunately, bottled water corporations continuing to bottle at high levels even in times of drought is not unprecedented,” Erin Diaz, a campaign director with Corporate Accountability International, a watchdog group, told MintPress. “In fact, there is a clear track record of these companies continuing to extract water at times of drought.”
 The drought in other areas besides Puget Sound is presenting itself as an opportunity for Big Water to swoop in and sweep out competitors by raising water rates that exceed their operating capabilities. It's unfortunate that Governor Inslee chose to include Seattle as part of the drought declaration because it does not look very good politically.