Saving Water in a Desert City

Saving Water in a Desert City

Saving Water in a Desert City

Saving Water in a Desert City


One facet of RFF's continuing interest in water resources has been concern for municipal water system problems. This concern has been expressed in studies of residential water demand (Howe andLinaweaver, The Impact of Price on Residential Water Demand . . . , Water Resources Research vol. 1, 1965); of actual and economically optimal methods of planning and building reservoirs to cope with drought (Rus sell ,Arey, andKates, Drought and Water Supply , RFF, 1970); of drinking water safety and the costs and benefits of the Safe Drinking Water Act ( Safe Drinking Water ,Russell, ed., RFF, 1978); and of groundwater contamination from hazardous waste disposal sites (Sharefkin, Schechter, andKneese, Impacts, Costs, and Techniques for Mitigation of Contaminated Groundwater , in National Science Foundation, Workshop on Groundwater Resources and Contamination in the United States , NSF PRA Report, 1983). These studies, while including necessary elements of engineering and science, concentrated on economic problems—of demand estimation, system expansion, and benefit estimation.

This book was stimulated by and sets out to analyze a political battle over water pricing by a municipal system. In the course of that analysis it provides us with improved methods for demand function estimation Where block rates are involved, suggests procedures for rational pricing of municipal water, and is otherwise faithful to RFF's economics tradition while attempting to explain how politics can dominate when real decisions are made. It also shows how the emotionally powerful water use and development issues can stand in for economically larger concerns like the pace and character of urban growth and change.

Therefore, Saving Water in a Desert City may be said both to continue a tradition and to break some new ground for RFF's publications about municipal water problems. Because it has the additional virtue of being easy to read, it should be of wide interest to those involved with municipal services and resource management in general.

Clifford S. Russell

December 1983

Washington, D.C.

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