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Your Views: Georgians need more efforts to conserve water
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The present drought has alerted Georgians that we need to use scarce water resources more efficiently. The small Chattahoochee River basin is not adequate to support rapid population growth in the Atlanta metropolitan area and North Georgia. Georgia, Alabama and Florida compete for scarce water resources. How can we persuade people to use less water?

First, we can continue to exhort Georgians to consume less water. Unfortunately, most people are unlikely to hear the message. My water use is so small that my sacrifice won't make any difference, and saving water is not convenient for me anyway. At best, exhortation works only in an emergency; when it rains again, people will again take longer showers, water their lawns and wash their cars.

Second, we can raise the price of this precious resource by adding a water consumption tax. The higher the water consumption tax, the more users will look for painless ways to use less water. Let users decide how well watered their gardens should be, and whether they should replace their toilet or flush less frequently.

Of course, the purpose of a water consumption tax is not to empty wallets, but to change wasteful consumption of a scarce resource. The revenue could fund investment in water storage projects to increase supply before the next drought appears in 10 or 20 years. Investment in increasing supply may make sense, given the growing demand for water as populations and standards of living increase. But, it is probably much cheaper to reduce demand than to increase supply.

A water consumption tax is, of course, not a perfect way to reduce water consumption. Some people won't notice that their water bill is higher, some who do notice won't figure out how to reduce their consumption, and some won't care that their water bill is higher. But, if we Georgians are serious about reducing per capita water consumption, a tax on water consumption can more effectively reduce demand than exhortations from government officials or heavy handed government regulations on water use. And the market incentive to use less water will keep on working after the rains return.

Given the limits of the Chattahoochee storage system, anticipated population growth in metropolitan Atlanta and North Georgia, and the likelihood that drought will visit us again in 10 or 20 years, we need to reduce demand for water permanently. A water consumption tax is the most efficient way to accomplish this goal.

Tom Rasmussen
Gainesville

Stores should tell us ‘Merry Christmas'
I am so tired of this war on Christmas. I am not asking any who don't believe to celebrate my holiday, but I am asking for them to leave it alone.

As a Christian, I also have freedom of religion. That means I have a right to practice my religion. This country was founded on God. That is a fact!

I don't understand why, if the majority of the country believes in a higher power, that we let the minority take over and make the rules. It is time to take a stand in America for what we believe in. I for one am going to stand up for God.

If you can't say "Merry Christmas," then I cannot spend my hard earned money in your store. You are making a profit off of my religion, but don't want to acknowledge it. If every Christian in Hall County will refuse to shop in stores that don't say "Merry Christmas," we can make a huge difference and I believe next year everyone will say "Merry Christmas."

Merry Christmas!

Misty Leach
Gainesville

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