Cartwright—I agree that mandates are problematic from a bureaucratic perspective, and I agree that the free markets should determine this. I guess you could make an argument for a surcharge on excess water usage similar to the surcharge on gasoline that I proposed a few minutes ago. This is a good way to influence consumption of water and the behavior of consumers when it comes to water usage.
But you can also influence consumers with incentives related to conservation in this case. Let’s consider this. I recently saw a toilet that had a sink atop the tank so that when you washed your hands the water drained into the tank which would then be used the next time you flushed the toilet. I thought it was a pretty slick idea. We do waste a lot of water when we wash our hands and take showers. What if we could reclaim and reuse this water in the toilets in our own homes? It would probably take some re-plumbing and some modifications but it could probably be done. Would people be willing to invest in this effort if they received a tax break or a rebate from their water company based on the amount of water they save in a year’s time? I imagine a lot of people might take advantage of this if you could make it worth their while. Just something to think about.
How can we encourage people to conserve water? Most people take water for granted. They turn on the sink and the water is there. They don’t really worry about it until the well goes dry, so to speak. We need to work on educating the population on how to conserve water and the importance of doing so. As a lot of places in the west have seen, you’re in a lot of trouble when your water resources become scarce. Here again this is about influencing consumer behaviors. We waste a lot of water to water the lawns so that we have pretty green grass. This really isn’t an efficient or prudent use of water, particularly when it’s in short supply. Perhaps homebuilders should consider alternative landscaping options that consume less water when building a development and homeowners consider alternatives to their lawns. Personally, I favor putting down the artificial turf they use on some football fields. I think it’s made of recycled tires. It’s looks very real and requires no watering. It’s pretty expensive, but if it saves on the water bill and you’re given some type of credit or incentive, it might become more prevalent.