Quiz 9: Recyclable Resources: Minerals, Paper, Bottles, and E-Waste


Neither of the pricing system as described in Table 9.1 best describes the pricing system used to price water we use at our college or university. Pricing systems described in Table 9.1 were related to the pricing of irrigation water and that also in developing countries whereas water supplied to college or universities is for domestic purposes and therefore is priced using different methods than shown in Table 9.1. At our college or university, a flat fee is charged per student with regard to water usage. This Flat Fee is indifferent to the amount of water used by the specific student whether a student uses less or more water he has to pay the same fee. This type of system does not encourage water conservation because student have to pay the fixed amount irrespective of water consumed so there is temptation to spent some more time in shower. Moreover, per student charge is also on the lower side as well and thus both flat fee and its low level do not inculcate water conserving habit in the students. In order to encourage water conserving behavior in students, college or university should use inverted block method and also install meter in rooms of student to note the consumption effected by students. Under inverted block system, cost per unit of water consumed increases as the consumption increase. This will prompt the students to use water judiciously so as to save themselves from being charged at higher rate and to face heavy water bill.

In our home town, uniform rate structure is being used to price the publicly supplied water. Under this system, per unit cost of water consumed remains same whatever is the level of consumption. This means that whether a person is heavy user or low user of water, cost per unit of water remain same. This system is being adopted so as to keep the water pricing system equal throughout the town. Also, water is taken to be free good and distribution utility is allowed to recover only the costs of distribution and treatment of water which it can sufficiently recover by charging a uniform price for water from all users. Method used in our home town is not an efficient method as this method does not reward the low users of water and punish the heavy or extravagant users of water. Instead, of this method, inverted or increasing block rate method should be used. Under this method, cost per unit of water consumed increases as the usage increases. This method is equitable in the sense that it rewards the low users of water as they have to pay lower price per unit of water consumed whereas penalize the heavy users of water as they have to pay higher price per unit of water consumed. This method encourages conservation by cutting down extravagant use of water.

Since our region is blessed with abundant water. Demand never comes close to the available amount. This abundance of water as human nature goes prompts us to simply use whatever amount we want and whenever we want. This happens because it is the scarcity that alters the behavior in favor of conservation. If supply is less than the demand then it will prompt the person to use the commodity in efficient manner and to avoid its wastage and use it in most appropriate manner and for those uses that necessarily needs this commodity. Also, excess of demand over supply will result in higher price for commodity which in turn will also restrict the extravagant usage of commodity. So, abundance of water in our region with supply exceeding the demand results in two scenarios - 1. Water rates are low. 2. Scarcity is not an issue. Both of these scenarios results in lack of judicious use of water and thus defeats the purpose of conserving water. Since, water is a scarce commodity, this kind of extravagant usage is not good but as human nature goes abundance always leads to wastage and that is true for our region as well with regards to consumption of water.