Now let me get this straight. Because folks in Southern California refuse to conserve and have, in fact, actually increased their water consumption in response to our never-ending drought, those of us who pee in the back yard and take only 30-second showers once a week are going to pay the price.
That’s the message the State Water Resources Control Board is sending with its mean-spirited threat of $500 fines for anyone who dares to let a drop of our precious water land in a nearby gutter. And yes, that edict applies in all 58 counties of this once-golden state, not just in those areas where water conservation has been mocked. Because little Tommy left the water running while brushing his teeth, mom and dad are sending all the children to their rooms.
According to Water Board chair Felicia Marcus: “Not everybody in California understands how bad this drought is and how bad it could be. There are communities in danger of running out of water all over the state.”
Maybe yes and maybe no, but in a town like Davis, where water conservation has been the rule of the day for a number of years now, to be branded on the forehead with that large double “W” (water waster) seems more than unfair. Makes me think that Tim Draper’s plan to divide California into six states isn’t such a bad idea after all.
According to the Associated Press report appearing in this very newspaper yesterday, the increased statewide consumption “is attributable to two regions of the state: Southern California coastal communities and the far northeastern slice of the state.”
And trust me, folks in Southern California waste more water in five minutes than the entire town of Alturas does in a decade.
Banned by the board are such horrendous household practices as using water to wash sidewalks and driveways, washing a car without a gizmo at the end of the hose to shut off the water flow, using water in a decorative fountain unless it’s recirculated, and any sort of landscape watering that results in even a drop of runoff reaching the streets or gutters.
No exception is made for the significant number of homeowners who have lawns that slant toward the street, which was once considered a smart way to keep downpours from flooding your home.
So, if you really must wash your car with something other than leftover bath water, be sure to do it on the lawn, not in the driveway or, heaven forbid, the street.
Despite our desperation, those “Farm to Fork” types raising almonds to ship to China are exempt from these regulations, as are those vintners raising grapes to produce wine that is shipped all over the world.
Unless, of course, they’re washing their car in either an orchard or a vineyard.
But get this. According to Marcus, the Water Board chair, other steps the board is considering include requiring water districts to finally stop the leaks in their pipes. This, the AP reports, “accounts for an estimated 10 percent of water use” statewide.
You may want to go back and read that last line again. Apparently, if these figures are accurate, fully 10 percent of water “use” in the state of California can be attributable to leaky pipes. Who knew?
Maybe, before we start treating people like common criminals for daring to water the petunias, we ought to fix those leaky pipes. Quick, somebody call a plumber.
I mean, we’re talking about the end of life as we know it in our beloved state of California.
The same story notes that the “Department of Water Resources estimates that cities and suburbs use about 20 percent of the state’s water, with about half going outdoors.”
Now, I’m not a math major, but the last time I checked, half of 20 percent is 10 percent, which — surprise, surprise — is exactly the percentage of water that could be saved by fixing those leaky pipes.
Problem solved. $500 saved.
— Reach Bob Dunning at [email protected]