Use irrigation as a rate model

By From page A8 | February 26, 2013

Rate-settin­g for water in Davis could be called creative water financing. In the real world of water — irrigation — there is a more rational approach.

There is a base rate set, but it is not a finite number for each water user, but a finite number for the “unit” on which the water is used. For example, if the user has 1,000 acres, the user would pay the base rate times 1,000. If the user had 500 acres, the user would pay the base rate times 500. If the user had one acre, the user would pay the base rate times one.

There is a “water unit” charge. In agriculture, it is an acre-foot (the amount of water to cover 1 acre with 1 foot of water. In Davis, it is ccf — 100 cubic feet). The user, no matter how small or large, pays for the amount of water used.

In agriculture, there is a meter system that measures how much water each user takes from the irrigation water delivery system. In Davis, the current idea is to use the size of the delivery pipe? So a tiny lot with a larger delivery pipe would pay more than a half-acre lot with a smaller delivery pipe. The agricultural system is simple, equitable and encourages conservation. Why does Davis have to have a convoluted system?

The city of Davis and its water users also should understand that Davis, nor any other entity, cannot just throw a pipe into the Sacramento River and pump out all the water it wants. If the city of Davis, now or at any other time, plans to pull water from the Sacramento River, it should support the raising of the Shasta Dam. I know someone is going to balk at that statement. But in water-rich years, it is wise to have water stored for those years when water is not abundant. The greater the number of Sacramento River water users, the greater the risk, in low water years, of very limited available water. Farmers have had, in some years, their water supply cut to the point fields have had to be fallowed.

The same theory applies to individuals, businesses and governments — just because there is money today, don’t spend it all because you very well may need it when times are tough in the future.

Vernette Marsh


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