Peter Orszag on how we need to invest more in our water supply, and do much more to conserve our use:
Atlanta’s Water War Is First in a Gathering Flood: There is an alarming global supply-demand imbalance, worsened by pollution and draining of underground aquifers reducing the available fresh water supply…. [I]n the past two decades, groundwater resources in Great Lakes communities like Chicago and Milwaukee have fallen by 1,000 feet. Our aging water pipes are another challenge… pipes account for about 70 percent of the cost of a water system.
So what can we do to preserve our access to fresh drinking water? One major need, as I have written about previously, is to address the pricing problem. The typical American uses 100 gallons of water per day, but in most places, prices aren’t adequately adjusted to usage. Prices that reflected usage would not only raise more money for addressing emerging water issues but also help raise everyone’s awareness of them.
Today’s low interest rates offer an ideal situation in which to finance investment in new or replacement pipes. We also need to invest in new technology -- from desalination to strategies for water reuse…. There’s no reason to wait passively for the next water battle…