My lawn is brown, blotchy and blighted, and my heart wells up with civic pride when I see it.
After all, we’re in a severe drought. It’s now our duty to deprive our lawns of hydration until they’re little desiccated deserts. The governor told us that. Having our own little patch of burned-out badlands is our way of announcing to the world: “I get it. I am water wise, and yes, I am proud to have a lawn crappier than yours.”
Go inside my house and you’ll see more evidence of our hydration miserliness. Our water-saving dishwasher, bought just last fall, already sits idle because we learned you can save even more water by washing dishes by hand so long as you use only one inch of sudsy water and don’t rinse them. All our drinking water is imported from one of those states that floods too often, and we have piles of dirty clothes waiting to grow larger so we can overstuff the washing machine. Which is one of those new, water-thrifty models, I’m proud to boast.
So I totally got it last week when I read a Field Poll survey that said 44 percent of homeowners said they’d find it tough to reduce their household’s water use any more.
Reduce water use even more? Yeah, that’d be tough, all right. I mean, in my little household, we long ago answered the question of whether we can take a shower by using only a teacup’s worth of water. (Answer: Yes. Well, kind of.) But if we must cut more, I supposed the question is going to be: Can we forego showers entirely and still have a role in society? Another question: Do clothes need to be washed at all? Couldn’t we just drape them over the backyard fence occasionally and let them air out?
But alas, it appears we must cut back even more. Earlier this month, the governor ordered the state’s 410 largest cities, water districts and water companies to cut water use between 8 percent and 36 percent or face ruinous fines.
(Beverly Hills is one of those cities ordered to cut 36 percent because households there continue to be heinous hydrators. Apparently they’ve been living up to the old Johnny Carson joke that goes like this: Folks in Beverly Hills are doing their part to help out in this drought. They’ve all tossed a brick in their swimming pool.)
But wait. There was an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times last week that pointed out something very interesting. Of all the fresh water in this state, about half is used for the environment, which was described as “wild and scenic rivers” and “required delta outflows.” Forty percent is used by agriculture and the remaining 10 percent is used by urban areas.
Ten percent? Households and businesses in the entire state use only 10 percent?
Now I’m no math whiz, but it would appear that if those of us described as urban water users were to cut back an additional 20 percent – meaning no more showers – we’d only save the state a total of 2 percent of its water. That’s a lot of pain for the payoff.
But if we deprive the scenic waterways and delta outflow much less, let’s say 6 percent of its total use, that’d result in a total savings to the state of 3 percent. That’s a much better payoff.
Now governor, I know you hate to deprive the delta outflow and we all love scenic rivers, but c’mon, there’s a severe drought. We all have to contribute. Couldn’t you cut them, just a little, instead of us, so much?
If you’d just do that, governor, we’d be so grateful. I promise I won’t go back to being a wanton waterer. I will continue to proudly let my lawn slowly become even more of a moribund moonscape.
But if you don’t turn the spigot on us any tighter, I confess that I might indulge myself a teensy little bit. Once a week – dare I think, even twice? – I would reward myself with a luxurious shower that lingers for an entire minute.
Charles Crumpley is editor of the Business Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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