Inside Climate News: "As the Colorado River Declines, Water Scarcity and the Hunt for New Sources Drive Up Rates"

RFF University Fellow Casey Wichman is quoted several times in this piece about the rising cost of water in the parched American West.

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June 17, 2023

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Inside Climate News

The issue is economics 101, said Casey Wichman, an assistant economics professor at Georgia Institute of Technology and a university fellow with Resources for the Future who studies water pricing. Providers along the basin are coming to terms with the diminishing supply in the river and the infrastructure that needs to be repaired or replaced, largely driven by the rapid growth in population. All of those drive up costs, he said.

“The cheapest way to build new supply is just to get your customers to use less.” To do that, he said, water utilities often turn to raising rates, making the need to incentivize conservation another driver of the increasing price of water. 

Finding new water sources and getting people to conserve more is becoming increasingly important as the Southwest grapples with climate change and looks to shore up its supply.

“We have a lot of people living in areas where the water supplies just aren’t there,” Wichman said.

[Wichman is quoted several more times throughout the article.]

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