Can there be disciplined water conservation without water charges, contrary to economic pricing theory?

patslatt

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Can there be disciplined water conservation without water charges, contrary to economic pricing theory?

According to economic pricing theory, the demand for a free good is infinite. For instance, if supermarkets dropped the price of a popular food to zero, the shelves stocking it would be emptied in no time. In the case of free water, the demand is not so great. But could it be great enough to overwhelm the water supply? With tens of billions of investment needed to replace Victorian era water pipes connecting old buildings, water supplies could become precarious as has happened in many areas affected by contaminated water.

A major use of water is for flushing toilets. If people had to pay for water, at a certain level of charges, it would pay them to replace conventional toilets with new models that use less water. A McDonalds restaurant I visited has two buttons of different sizes on the flush toilet, with the smaller button meant for small flushes. In the absence of water charges, the government could incentivise people with grants to introduce those new models. If a million homes and commercial premises installed them, the cost in grants might be,say, €600 million.

However,given the typical inefficiencies of government, the cost would likely be a lot higher than if people paid the full cost and shopped around.

Another major water use that could be economised on is showers and baths. There are reports that young people are suffering skin rashes from prolonged showering. A public education campaign in leaflets could educate them on the optimal time for a shower, which could be as little as a minute for a healthy person depending on quickness of movement. In the mild Irish climate, a once a week bath sufficed in the old days.

Investment in efficient showers could also be incentivised with government grants running into hundreds of millions. When energy prices were very high in the past, some hotels installed showers that dispensed a thin mist,as thin as a rain mist, using maybe a pint or two of water.

In cooking,cleaning dishes and washing clothes and fabrics, there isn't much waste of water as high electricity charges incentivise the use of efficient cookers, dish washers,washing machines and water heaters.

So it should be possible to economise substantially on water use if the government spent a few billion on grants for efficient flush toilets and showers.

However, the need to fund the modernisation of the water infrastructure, especially the Victorian era water pipes, is still compelling. That will cost tens of billions. In the past, water supplies were funded out of general taxation but that level of past spending is inadequate to meet today's pressing requirements.

Irish voters are likely deluded if they think the government will fund the modernisation properly. There are competing financing needs in the voracious unreformed health care system and expectations for higher public sector pay stirred up by election happy talk on economic growth. Maybe a lot of Irish people will be hauling gallon plastic water containers from groceries or buckets from the village pump in the not too distant future.

<Mod> This thread has been merged with "Cab there be disciplined water conservation without water charges, contrary to economic theory?" </Mod>
 
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Watcher2

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patslatt

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There can, just not in Ireland when the norm seems to be of the "I'm alright Jack", selfish, non community, lack of responsibility society that pervades.
REPLIES

Better to keep them together on the Environment forum,please.
 

Malcolm Redfellow

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Despite my ingrained communitarian, socialist beliefs, I cannot see an alternative to pricing water and its consumption.

The original poster is correct to emphasise how ever-increasing water use, and the need to rebuild the infrastructure, requires huge investment. The obvious way to charge is through the Property Tax — which avoids punitive costing for large households. Water meters (the approach favoured by the British utilities) strike me as an expensive and undesirable alternative.

What is intolerable is fouling of domestic water — a recurrent problem, too (as in county Galway in 2007, 2008, 2009; Roscommon in 2013; Mayo in 2015 — and those are just the ones I remember).
 

Mad as Fish

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There can, just not in Ireland when the norm seems to be of the "I'm alright Jack", selfish, non community, lack of responsibility society that pervades.
Then can you explain please why it is we use less water per person than anyone else in the EU, or so it would appear?

IW themselves say that it is 111l per day while The Examiner recently put the figure as low as 80l per day.

Now what we don't know for certain is what the average for other EU countries are. A list was provided on here several months ago by an IW supporter which showed Belgium and Germany being in the same ball park as 112l, but those figures were never properly verified despite my asking from where they were sourced.

How much less water do you think we should be using? Again this is a question I have posed before but it remains unanswered.
 

Watcher2

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Then can you explain please why it is we use less water per person than anyone else in the EU, or so it would appear?

IW themselves say that it is 111l per day while The Examiner recently put the figure as low as 80l per day.

Now what we don't know for certain is what the average for other EU countries are. A list was provided on here several months ago by an IW supporter which showed Belgium and Germany being in the same ball park as 112l, but those figures were never properly verified despite my asking from where they were sourced.

How much less water do you think we should be using? Again this is a question I have posed before but it remains unanswered.
Why does that matter?

Just to answer your question, I don't know. I'm not sure too many do, but that does not matter. People should pay for the water they use. The current arbitrary charges are meaningless.
 

Mad as Fish

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Why does that matter?

Just to answer your question, I don't know. I'm not sure too many do, but that does not matter. People should pay for the water they use. The current arbitrary charges are meaningless.
So that's all there is to it, some sort of anal fear that people might be getting more than you! No logic, no understanding, no vision, no desire for healthy and equitable society, just a hatred for others.

Well at least you are being honest about it.
 

Watcher2

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So that's all there is to it, some sort of anal fear that people might be getting more than you! No logic, no understanding, no vision, no desire for healthy and equitable society, just a hatred for others.

Well at least you are being honest about it.
Really! THATS your interpretation of my PoV? There is something wrong with you. Seek help.
 

Mad as Fish

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Really! THATS your interpretation of my PoV? There is something wrong with you. Seek help.
Yes it is, and I fear it is you that needs the counseling.
 

patslatt

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Then can you explain please why it is we use less water per person than anyone else in the EU, or so it would appear?

IW themselves say that it is 111l per day while The Examiner recently put the figure as low as 80l per day.

Now what we don't know for certain is what the average for other EU countries are. A list was provided on here several months ago by an IW supporter which showed Belgium and Germany being in the same ball park as 112l, but those figures were never properly verified despite my asking from where they were sourced.

How much less water do you think we should be using? Again this is a question I have posed before but it remains unanswered.
HOT SUMMERS

Years ago,I explained to a new Irish emigrant in the US that the traditional once or twice a week Irish bath or shower wouldn't do in the hot humid US summers. A daily shower seemed extreme to her.
 

patslatt

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Despite my ingrained communitarian, socialist beliefs, I cannot see an alternative to pricing water and its consumption.

The original poster is correct to emphasise how ever-increasing water use, and the need to rebuild the infrastructure, requires huge investment. The obvious way to charge is through the Property Tax — which avoids punitive costing for large households. Water meters (the approach favoured by the British utilities) strike me as an expensive and undesirable alternative.

What is intolerable is fouling of domestic water — a recurrent problem, too (as in county Galway in 2007, 2008, 2009; Roscommon in 2013; Mayo in 2015 — and those are just the ones I remember).
Your approach to collecting water charges through property tax would collect little from a big country house in a remote location but a lot from a small but more valuable house in a good Dublin location. It would also require massive government intervention in the type of showers,flush toilets and washing machines used in housing, interventions that Irish governments are not used to. Such interventions would be opposed by opposition parties unless the governments gave billions in grants for new appliances.
 
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RodShaft

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Why does that matter?

Just to answer your question, I don't know. I'm not sure too many do, but that does not matter. People should pay for the water they use. The current arbitrary charges are meaningless.
Should they pay for the air they breath? What other natural resources would you levy charges on?
 

realist

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Really! THATS your interpretation of my PoV? There is something wrong with you. Seek help.
Just because you appear to be incapable of understanding the concept of the utilisation of our taxes towards the common good does not mean that there is something wrong with MAF.

We can easily continue to fund a public water service, the lack of money is just another political fudge. For example, we take in €12billion a year in VAT alone and it costs just a little over €500 million a year to provide water services for all. Why do you seem to prefer causing more hardship for the elderly, unemployed, incapacitated by taking their after tax money from their pockets just for the privilege of paying for a billing company for which the amounts billed do not even cover the costs of issuing the bills?

How can you justify John Tierney being paid nearly €5000 a week and at the same time expect an unemployed person, trying to survive on €188 a week, to pay the same amount as him for the right to continue to have access to water?

Do you not think that we would be better off not feeding millions of our taxes to unlimited private companies set up to meter and bill us instead of spending those taxes on the necessary improvements of the water system?
 

Watcher2

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Should they pay for the air they breath? What other natural resources would you levy charges on?
Oh, this old nugget. I'll let you in on a not too secret secret, it's not the actually resource you are being asked to pay for. It's the service of delivering it to your house and taking away and treating your waste water that you need to pay for.

By all means, install your own well or water recovery system and install a system that renders it safe for you to consume etc. then sink your own septic tank and treatment system and then maintain it. That is an option for you....oh sh1t, that would cost money, wouldn't it?

Oh well, still your choice.
 

Roll_On

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Should they pay for the air they breath? What other natural resources would you levy charges on?
Dumb post. If you lived on the moon and the state spent over a billion a year refining and piping clean air to your home per year you'd have a point.
 
D

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Just because you appear to be incapable of understanding the concept of the utilisation of our taxes towards the common good does not mean that there is something wrong with MAF.

We can easily continue to fund a public water service, the lack of money is just another political fudge. For example, we take in €12billion a year in VAT alone and it costs just a little over €500 million a year to provide water services for all. Why do you seem to prefer causing more hardship for the elderly, unemployed, incapacitated by taking their after tax money from their pockets just for the privilege of paying for a billing company for which the amounts billed do not even cover the costs of issuing the bills?

How can you justify John Tierney being paid nearly €5000 a week and at the same time expect an unemployed person, trying to survive on €188 a week, to pay the same amount as him for the right to continue to have access to water?

Do you not think that we would be better off not feeding millions of our taxes to unlimited private companies set up to meter and bill us instead of spending those taxes on the necessary improvements of the water system?
The unemployed will be exempt from water charges, probably after they spend multiple hours filling out forms and turning up repeatedly at some water employees desk to answer the same questions they've already answered st length in the dole office. John tier ry may need a raise to oversee all that.

I do however hope that the 'generous household allowance' will be enough to cater for weekend guests and the like. I don't fancy telling my guests that they have to pay me if they want a cup of coffee, or that they can go down the road to the unemployed family if they want a shower.
 

Watcher2

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Just because you appear to be incapable of understanding the concept of the utilisation of our taxes towards the common good does not mean that there is something wrong with MAF.

We can easily continue to fund a public water service, the lack of money is just another political fudge. For example, we take in €12billion a year in VAT alone and it costs just a little over €500 million a year to provide water services for all. Why do you seem to prefer causing more hardship for the elderly, unemployed, incapacitated by taking their after tax money from their pockets just for the privilege of paying for a billing company for which the amounts billed do not even cover the costs of issuing the bills?

How can you justify John Tierney being paid nearly €5000 a week and at the same time expect an unemployed person, trying to survive on €188 a week, to pay the same amount as him for the right to continue to have access to water?

Do you not think that we would be better off not feeding millions of our taxes to unlimited private companies set up to meter and bill us instead of spending those taxes on the necessary improvements of the water system?
Its MAFs interpretation of my post that gave me cause to question his sanity. That was clear even for you water protester crowd. Just another example I suppose of how you guys twist everything to suit your arguments.

How would you like to divvy up all revenue of government and tell us where the waste is, in fine detail? We can all point to one or two areas but the water crisis, and it is a crisis, requires far more investment than is available. It needs to be paid for and the current system (pre water charges) clearly is not adequate or working.

Would I support cutting vat and motor tax commensurate with the amounts associated with the elimination of rates, yes I would but water charges per use is something I support. Why should a person on buttons of wages have with no car, no family, no pool, garden etc have to fund the guys with big cars being washed weekly from a hose, a big garden and lawn watered every few days, pools etc etc?
 

Watcher2

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The unemployed will be exempt from water charges, probably after they spend multiple hours filling out forms and turning up repeatedly at some water employees desk to answer the same questions they've already answered st length in the dole office. John tier ry may need a raise to oversee all that.

I do however hope that the 'generous household allowance' will be enough to cater for weekend guests and the like. I don't fancy telling my guests that they have to pay me if they want a cup of coffee, or that they can go down the road to the unemployed family if they want a shower.

They could always bring their own water. Do they currently pay you for the electricity they use? What about the food they eat, or do you make them starve? Do you eat your own meals in front of them or put them outside the door for the duration?
 


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