Rethinking water rates: Uncap and Trade

I believe I’ve come up with more effective ways to encourage water conservation in our system. (For an even simpler way to encourage conservation click here.)

The first 100 gallons per household per day should be free, with sharply steeper rates above that. (The number of free gallons is subject to analysis and debate – but is based on the idea that everyone has right to some quantity of potable water. We can make this rate adjustment work so that people who choose not to change their water use would have approximately the same bill as at present.) At the same time we create a water credit system. You would accumulate credits by using less than your free allotment, and the credits could be traded. The value of a credit would be established in the marketplace and would presumably be lower than the established rate. Therefore, those who conserve could sell credits to big users. Overall the price for the “biggest” use would still be higher than it is today, so everyone would be encouraged to conserve, but the tradeable credits would help big users to offset some of the price increase. This kind of system is no more difficult to operate than cell phone minutes or frequent flier miles, both of which are quite familiar to modern citizens. My thought is that we could try this on residential rates, with the tradeable credits available for purchase by both residential and commercial customers.

Because the system would apply to all on the Asheville water system it would meet the requirements of the Sullivan Acts that we offer the same rates inside and outside the city limits, but because there are more large users outside the city limits it would presumably shift more of the burden to county customers.

At the same time, it would seem entirely reasonable to me that the city and county should step up support for infrastructure repairs and one possibility would be to raise rates for schools, which would also help shift some of the rate burden to the county.


One Response

  1. […] For water: I advocate what I call an “Uncap and Trade” policy which would give each household 100 gallons of water per day for free but raise the rates above that level to compensate for the cost. (The average household on the Asheville system uses 150 gallons per day.) Those who use less than their free allotment would earn tradeable credits that could be sold to larger water users. (To see a longer explanation of this plan, click here.) […]

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