How to pay for wa­ter

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

Re “Wa­ter rate rul­ing snags drought plan,” April 21

I was very dis­ap­pointed to read about the state ap­peals court de­ci­sion in­val­i­dat­ing San Juan Capis­trano’s tiered rate struc­ture. As they tell us in Eco­nomics 101, in­cen­tives mat­ter.

The fact is that peo­ple who want their yards to re­sem­ble the es­tate of an English lord are be­ing sub­si­dized by the rest of us. They are not pay­ing the full cost of de­liv­er­ing those large vol­umes of wa­ter. Those costs are ex­ter­nal­ized, both ge­o­graph­i­cally — since they af­fect a broad swath of ecosys­tems and hu­man com­mu­ni­ties — and tem­po­rally, as they will be borne by our chil­dren, who will face de­pleted aquifers and a fur­ther de­graded en­vi­ron­ment.

If the courts find them­selves con­strained, then we need to pre­vail on our leg­is­la­tors to change the law so that our wa­ter fees in­clude all of the real costs of pro­vid­ing 160 gal­lons of wa­ter, ev­ery day, to one per­son living in a place that gets 13 inches of rain per year.

Those who wish to live in a land­scape like that of Lord Craw­ley should move to one of the states with year-round rain­fall and not ex­pect their Cal­i­for­nia neigh­bors to sub­si­dize their fan­tasies.

Janet Wol­cott


Allen J. Sch­aben Los An­ge­les Times

A COURT agreed with John Perry of San Juan Capis­trano that tiered wa­ter rates vi­o­lated the law.

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