What it's about:
In Morocco and California, two projects are pioneering a new approach to water preservation: rewarding conservation rather than charging for consumption.
In the Californian city Sonoma and Morocco’s capital Marrakech, people who preserve water are awarded Water Conservation Credits (WSC) which can be cashed in for money, Zachary Burt, a climate fellow at Columbia University, writes on City Lab.
A WSC is awarded to anyone who reduces their water usage below an individual baseline, called a "Water Mark". In periods of drought, Water Marks can be adjusted, according to Burt.
This rewards system encourages individuals and businesses to keep more water in the local ecosystem, he argues, while removing the problems attached to charging for water consumption.
It allows cities to pay residents for their conservation efforts, instead of hiring lawyers to sue other urban areas for overuse.
Why it's noteworthy:
From Cape Town to Beijing, water demand in cities is exceeding supply. Growing urbanisation and changing weather patterns are shrinking water reserves worldwide. A global rethink is needed to tackle this issue.
The WSC system boosts the value of water without increasing rates. It is also a low-risk proposal from a political perspective, as Burt notes that citizens are unlikely to protest against rewards for conservation efforts.
The initiative could provide an answer for cities on the brink of drought, and help them implement a sustainable, efficient and politically viable solution to water challenges.
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