Economists and a public policy expert at the University of Minnesota who looked into block pricing for water in the nation’s largest urban areas, including 11 Western cities, discovered a pattern they conclude is neither sustainable nor just: Many of the driest cities have the cheapest water prices. What’s more, for households across the West, the average price of water goes down as use goes up.
The researchers used the Natural Resources Defense Council’s 2010 Water Sustainability Index rankings — which combine factors such as climate change projections, drought vulnerability and future demand — to predict water scarcity for the biggest cities in the nation’s 35 most populous metropolitan areas.
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