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An innovative approach to promote water use efficiency
Date:2/20/2014

nd other factors believed to significantly affect water demand. Then, they predicted what the demand for water would have been from 2009 to 2012 had EMWD retained its flat rate price structure rather than switching to water budget rates.

"We estimated that by late 2012, average household water use was around 15 percent below where it would have been under a flat rate price structure with equivalent average prices," Baerenklau said. "Furthermore, while the average price paid for water rose only 4 percent under water budgets, flat rate prices would have had to increase by around 30 percent to achieve the same 15 percent demand reduction. This indicates that block-rate pricing can achieve the goal of encouraging water efficiency while keeping overall prices low and addressing equity concerns."

Results from the study have been accepted for publication in the journal Land Economics.

Water budgets have been used since the early 1990s, but not by many water utilities. As of 2008, fewer than 14 California water utilities had implemented water budget rate structures. But between 2008 and 2011, at least nine more California utilities implemented them. This renewed interest is driven, in part, by California's "20x2020 Water Conservation Plan," which requires each water utility to reduce its per-capita water consumption by 20 percent by 2020. Other utilities are considering implementing water budget rates, but there remain concerns about the costs and benefits of doing so.

"Our research helps to clarify one of the main benefits water conservation at a time when the state is coping with an extreme drought and expecting a drier and more variable climate in the future," Baerenklau said.

EMWD of Southern California provided funding for the study.

Baerenklau was joined in the study by Kurt Schwabe and

Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6397
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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