Explore the relationship between water pricing and encouraging conservation goals to help develop long-term resilience in a drought.
Water pricing and residential water use data for hundreds of water agencies in California during the State-mandated conservation period (June 2015 – May 2016) were studied to find out if the water rates or rate structures that the agencies charged were a critical component in achieving greater conservation. This research revealed that the relationship between pricing and water use is not straightforward. Certain aspects of pricing—the rates and the rate structure design—were an essential aspect of some water agencies’ success in maintaining long-term efficient water use or meeting short-term curtailment goals, but not for other agencies. There is no single pricing solution that works for all water agencies to encourage conservation. Pricing can encourage conservation, but should be customized to local conditions and in the context of non-pricing conservation programs.