Water conservation does not work

November 27, 2013


A water company is comparable to an oil company. Both companies provide vital liquids. An oil company can and does go half way around the world, dig the petroleum out of the ground, ship it to a refinery, convert into products people need and use, transport it to neighborhoods and sell it an expensive, although affordable price. They do it all and still make a profit with competition right across the street.

The Atascadero Mutual Water Company (AMWC) doesn’t seem to provide water unless it falls on the company’s head. Every time a drought occurs, AMWC sends notes telling customers to conserve water because of the drought. Oil companies never send notes to customers saying conserve gasoline because of a shortage. In fact, customers can buy as much gasoline as they wish to pay for.

How does a water or oil company make money to pay its bills and employees? They sell their product. Water companies sell water. Oil companies sell oil.

AMWC does not pay dividends and has rarely, if ever, reduced monthly usage bills over the last 35 years. Oil company stock pays nice dividends.

The amount of water on earth is a constant. No shortage of water exists on earth. Over 75 percent of the earth’s surface is covered in water, some of it very deep. Reverse osmosis is an effective way to convert salt water to fresh water.

About five years ago, the Mississippi River flooded near St. Louis, Missouri to the point that statues of Lewis and Clark were partially submerged. That fresh water was rushing to the ocean. Various water companies exist from Atascadero to the Mississippi. Oil companies built a pipeline all the way across Alaska from north to south, some of the most inhospitable land on earth. The Atascadero Mutual Water Company has not even attempted to bring water from the Pacific Ocean, very close by, with millions of liters of water.

What are the differences between these two types of companies?

The water company is a monopoly for delivery of piped water to people in Atascadero. The water must be potable, or people will become sick. Oil companies are not monopolies. Their products must meet the quality demands of their customers. They compete for customers. AMWC has guaranteed customers. They discourage customers from buying and using water. How does the water company make money doing that? A good company would renounce their monopoly. Weren’t monopolies illegal and evil? Yet, there are at lease eight monopolies in Atascadero including the water, electricity, natural gas, cable, trash, fire and police. The water company should give up their monopoly and seek new customers from other water companies.

An example of a missed opportunity was when an earthquake hit Paso Robles. Reports indicated the city lost 25 percent of their water storage capacity. The city instituted water restrictions. This was an excellent chance for AMWC to offer water to Paso at a premium and use the profits to develop other sources of water for the next drought. Water companies should compete with each other for more customers. With competition comes innovation, such as use of water trucks or putting in more pipelines from their water companies. This gives customers a choice.

How do customers ensure there is enough gasoline at the gas station? If customers save gas, it goes bad and vehicles won’t go anywhere. What customers have to do is use the gas they have and buy more. This encourages oil companies to find and produce more. The same is true with water. If customers don’t use water, they die and water companies go out of business.

Conservation does not work. More consumption is the answer to a water shortage.

Gary Kirkland is an Atascadero resident, 35-year-old stockholder in the Atascadero Mutual Water Company and president of the San Luis Obispo County Libertarian Party.

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Conservation, conservation, conservation! These agencies throw programs together about conservation to simply meet state requirements and can really care less about the success of the programs. Conservation, truly only happens when the cost of a product forces people to make decisions. For example, motorhome sales sharply decline and people dump used motorhomes during steep price increases in gas. The only benefit that these programs do is provide employment opportunities to individuals who otherwise have no skill sets to be employed – a form of socially acceptable welfare!

I began to disagree with this piece from the first sentence and it got worse from there. AMWD is owned by every property owner in Atown, not its board. It is the shining benefit of ownership in Atown. There is no controversy in AMWD, it is highly successful and it always has been. The biggest question posed by this piece is “why” as in what is the point and why was it written? Trying to mix oil and water is as crazy as…well, you know.

Wasting any resource is a sin and shows disrespect toward the Earth, humanity, and generations far into the future.

Using additional time, energy, money and natural resources to desalinate and detoxify water creates new problems.

To purposely use anything more than is needed is foolish. To go so far as to promote unnecessary consumption of a community resource is malicious.

There is nothing more sacred in this world than water, and look at how we treat it. We live in a closed system. Polluted, overused, disrespected water equals polluted, overused, disrespected people.

Is Gary Kirkland taking a stab at a satirical analogy?

I’ve lost any sense of validating in his argument of consuming is the way to conservation.

To equivocate water and oil in a for profit argument is not understanding water is a necessity of living, right after to air, and not too far behind is grain.

I for one, am willing to forgo all profits to keep the populous clean. Heaven forbid standing in line at Walmart getting your prescription filled standing next to someone who can’t afford running water, but needs some free birth control.

To have man profit from supplying potable water to its citizens is a reprehensible thought and to profit on water like oil or even suggest this argument is foolish.

Yea, we are dependent on oil, but our country invented and deployed its use…yea capitalism….I can now sell my goods around the world when the big brown UPS truck comes and takes it away, my bank account is more positive.

Useful oil and its derivatives is a product of conglomerate corporations and to equate a big cap company to a yocal, local water company is spitting on the tools of our society.

CalCoastNews should at least explain that the AMWC are the property owners of Atascadero, not a bunch of Wall Street 1%’ers.

We should be applauding AMWC for keeping the rates lowest around and its a model water company, excellent staff, community minded….since they are the community.

Dam it build some dam dams…If you want water during drought seasons you need a place to hold the water. When it rains in California it pours and we all watch as that beautiful water flows right out to sea year after year. Send a message to Sacramento. Tell them to stop telling us to conserve and to do their job and provide the basics…like water. I can get my own health care plan thank you. What I need is a reliable water source and every legislator in California is dropping that ball and it ticks me off and it should tick you all off too.

Actually, Conservation does work. It’s about people doing more with what they already have. For instance, if you install a graywater system (http://www.slograywater.com/) you can reduce your water cost by about 50%. Of course there’s an up-front infrastructure cost to re-use, but the infrastructure costs and direct impacts of desalination (energy and waste) far exceed anything people can do to conserve water that has already been treated and transported to their homes or businesses (even after considering your Economy of Scale arguments).


Graywater systems, stormwater retention, and landscape moisture retention. That’s all CONSERVATION stuff that have been around for a long time. What’s the problem with that?

What the heck? More consumption is the way to conservation? Is there something in the water in Atascadero?

” Is there something in the water in Atascadero?”

No. It’s just in the mind of Gary Kirkland.

it will be very interesting to see what the next move the AMWC will make due to “the drought”. In the past they have always said to conserve along with raising the rates. Now with the water issue in Paso Robles John Neils from the water company has come out and said that Atascadero has more water than they would need and that there is no problems. That’s funny, I don’t imagine that this has changed over night. If this is the case, and always has been, why have we been leid to about a shortage of water and rate increases in the past? Just another rip off?

I believe, as Mr. Kirkland has stated, that the AMWC is a monoply that is privately owned and is run by 5 Board members period. It would be very interesting to see what the perks are for these Board members, who have been in place for years, along with their executive staff along with employee pay raises and benefits. I would venture to say that they are as beneficial as government employees or possible better.

Look at the Board. The mighty Grigger Jones is involved. That alone speaks volumes.


it’s funny how water is such an issue recently. i’ve been told to conserve ever since i can remember. some of the richest attorneys that i know are water right attorneys. and i hate being told to conserve so more people can move into condos & apartments. there are even movies about water rights. i also own a little property in Longmont, CO. water is handled differently there.

water in CA is BIG business, always has been, always will be