Solving water scarcity
A lively debate last night at the Beesley Lectures on water sector reform. Tom le Quesne, WWF, argued that property rights and pricing could play a role in the allocation of water as it became ever scarcer. He also warned of the dangers of importing water trading models from overseas into England and Wales as most international trading schemes are for agricultural water, not for water destined for domestic use.
Sir Ian Byatt, Director General of Water Services, put forward the argument that we should consider setting prices on the basis of what was affordable and then challenge companies to deliver water or reductions in water demand within that cap. So if prices were not to increase to fund major capital projects on the supply side, what could companies and society do to limit the demand side of the equation?
Key points arising from the floor included the concern that the definition of property rights could keep being changed which could lead to a loss of confidence in trading.There was a desire to understand what would be the priorities in defining these property rights.