Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Debunking the Wal-Mart Myths #5: Wal-Mart and Commercial Development Threaten Local, Regional, and National Water Supplies

Wal-Mart Myth #5 debunked by Steven Peterson, U of I Research Economist, at the Moscow Chamber of Commerce luncheon last Wednesday.

Charge #5: Wal-Mart and Commercial Development Threaten Local, Regional, and National Water Supplies

Fact: Commercial water use is a relatively minor water user

  • U.S. commercial water use represents approximately only 16.68% of the total U.S. municipal water use.

  • U.S. commercial water use consumes 1.77% of the total U.S. water (including agricultural, industrial, and thermoelectric—fresh and saline.)

  • In Idaho commercial development represents 0.21% for year 2000.

  • Source: USGS

    Fact: Wal-Mart a minor Moscow water user

  • Moscow’s Wal-Mart used approximately 0.38% of Moscow’s total water usage and 0.26% of the combined Moscow and University of Idaho water use/consumption.

  • Wal-Mart consumed approximately 3.1 million gallons in 2005 and averaged 3.5 million gallons from year 2000 to 2005.

  • Moscow’s Wal-Mart’s would have consumed only 4.8% of the supposed 62 million gallon annual Thompson Addition water projection in 2005. A super Wal-Mart would consume about 7.8% or 4.85 million gallons per year.

  • Subtracting (since the current store would close) leaves 1.75 million gallons per year or 2.8% of the supposed 62 million gallon projection per year.

  • Fact: Most of the water consumed by the proposed Thompson 77 acre is not new water from the aquifer

  • Firms relocating or closing as a result of the new shopping center need to have their water use subtracted from the total water use in the Thompson Addition.

  • The 62 million gallon annual water use was a computer generated maximum estimate that was very unlikely to be reached by any combination of firms when the shopping center was fully developed.

  • Most (but not all) of commercial water is a derived demand from households. If the respective commercial establishments did not exist, those activities would be carried out at home including washing automobiles, water used to produce or prepare food and drink, water for restrooms, and water used to raise plants and vegetables.

  • Fact: Surprising impact of other water users

  • A small high technology firm locating in Moscow with 54 employees and their families will consume as much water per year as the Moscow Wal-Mart. For a super-Wal-Mart, a technology firm with about 64 employees and their families would equals its yearly water use. Using these same assumptions the Alturas Technology Park employees and their families consumes 2.07 times the annual water use of a super Wal-Mart.

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