Excessive Water Use

We received a notice today from the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District that we are guilty of “excessive” water usage. Apparently, some water was seen running off our lawn. Or something. We’re still not exactly sure–the notice we received doesn’t fit the description given when my wife called in to ask about it. But never matter; what’s more ominous is that today it’s just a warning. At some point, she was told, there will be penalties.

Now, besides the thought of someone being on our property and observing our water usage being utterly creepy; the questionable use of taxpayer’s money that this person represents; and, how random the whole thing is to the point of being meaningless and downright unfair… It’s also economically stupid.

If there were a free market in water, and I was paying a market price for the water I use, then there’d be no need to send anyone around looking for “excessive” usage. Indeed, there would be no such thing as “excessive” use at all, because I would be paying the price no matter how much water I used and how I used it. Concerns about water conservation would also be met, because as water became more scarce, I’d pay more, and thus be naturally inclined to conserve.

This is, of course, a fairly straightforward example of what’s fundamentally wrong, practically speaking, with government providing such services. How does the agency define what’s “excessive”? Should they decide to impose penalties (by what reasonable authority?), how would they police them? Certainly, people can’t be penalized based on such random spot checks as caught us up (at least, not with any rational sense of justice)–why, that would be as bad as random roadblocks checking for seat belt usage…

At this point, it’s unclear to me exactly how the water district is organized, what its legal mandate looks like, and how it determines how much to charge for the water I use. Frankly, I don’t pay all that much for water, considering that the State of California is supposed to be suffering from a drought. And the fact that I don’t pay that much for water is precisely what will make me toss that notice in the trash and go on using it exactly as I have in the past.

Ultimately, this is that sort of small, petty government intrusion that makes one fear for one’s life when one considers the likes of Obama and McCain gaining real power over us.

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