Water and money… some questions, some answers! From Raul, Vancouver’s academic-environmentalist-blogger. (thanks, Raul! you got me thinking, that’s for sure)
First of all, thanks to Nancy for inviting me to guest-blog on issues of money and sustainability. You’d be surprised to find that there are many more linkages than people think about. For this first post, and given that we recently celebrated World Water Day 2008 (some countries celebrate on March 20th, some on March 22nd and others on March 23rd), I wanted to highlight the linkages between money and water, given that water is one of the world’s most scarce resources (and at risk of becoming a commodity). As the Dublin Principle 4 indicates, water has an economic value:
Dublin Statement on Water and Sustainable Development (1992):
‘Principle No. 4: Water has an economic value in all its competing uses and should be recognized as an economic good. Within this principle, it is vital to recognize first the basic right of all human beings to have access to clean water and sanitation at an affordable price. Past failure to recognize the economic value of water has led to wasteful and environmentally damaging uses of the resource. Managing water as an economic good is an important way of achieving efficient and equitable use, and of encouraging conservation and protection of water resources.’ [United Nations’ World Water Development Report]
Water pricing in Canada is amongst the lowest amongst the developed world (at $ 0.40 per cubic metre, compared to $ 1.91 in Germany). While people often tend to believe that Canada doesn’t have problems with water scarcity (some statistics indicate that Canada has about 7% of the world’s supply of freshwater, you would be surprised at how much of a fallacy this statement is. Furthermore, this widespread belief (combined with the fact that much of Canada’s municipal water supply is not metered and thus consumption is not deterred by way of price differentials) has led some people to be wasteful with the precious liquid.
However, the pricing schemes looming in the future of Canadian residents will include both metering (and paying per cubic metre) and the concept of full cost recovery, which implies that you’ll be paying more if you consume more (also, the more you pollute water, the more you pay). So, the next time you want to find ways in which to reduce your spending, you may want to start thinking about ways to reduce water consumption. Your ecosystems will thank you, and so will your wallet.
Readers – I don’t know about you, but when I see the image below, I get pretty complacent about how much water I use. Do you make an effort to conserve water or like me ( busted!) do you not really even think twice about it?