The Future Of Water In The Southwest



There is an abundance of water -- we just must learn how to use it less wastefully. We will learn this voluntarily, or we will be made to learn it painfully -- but learn it we will or die trying.

If the latter, we will not be the first.


In the short term, the only way to induce the consumer to faithfully save water is to place this commodity on an ascending price curve, where the cost doubles each time the consumer increases his demand past a multiple of the nominal water demand associated with a family of the size in question.

In the longer term, technological measures, the development of which should be undertaken now, must be introduced -- say, by 2010 -- to cut water demand, starting with the abandonment of the rather grotesque and disgusting habit we all have of mixing drinking water with human and animal wastes and sending them to the city through expensive piping (Ugh, Yuck. It would be, of course, OK if the terminals for the gunk were on the desks of our politicians).

The toilet technology required has existed for quite a while -- all it needs is commercialization to allow economical volume production of the consumer equipment and city infrastructure -- the latter being very probably much less expensive to build than elaborate sewer plants.

Other measures which could easily be made available in the next decade include on-site water recycling for bath, laundry and other household cleaning activities. Drinking/cooking water can be processed from the recycled water or purchased as many folks do already.

Here in the desert or near desert, lush foliage, lawns, lakes and golf courses must become casualties of water scarcity, except for the very wealthy and indifferent who can import water in tankers or pipelines from areas with a surplus, providing good-paying jobs for the rest of us.

By 2010, we could cut water consumption in new construction by 90 to 95 percent -- that is, by a factor of 10 or 20, from 5,000 gallons/month to 500 or even to 250 gallons/month.

It is time to get the lead out (forget the arsenic) and get moving into the 21st century. There is still time.

The future of water in the Southwest does not lie in lakes or golf courses nor does it lie in the process of being mixed with feces for disposal.

Allen N Wollscheidt, Chandler/Payson

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