Tuesday, August 11, 2015

In Driest California

The alternative title to this post should be drought-shaming because that’s what I am about to do.  Folks in  my hometown are under orders to cut their water consumption by 1/3 of the level used in 2011.  Trees and shrubs may be watered twice a week according to a set schedule but lawns are to be left to their own devices.  You can see the stress of conditions every where you look.

Penalties for round one of non-compliance is a $25 fee in a household’s two month bill.  A second round of non-compliance raises the fee to $50.  There are water police who patrol for runoff and they also issue fines.  In short, community measures are in place to conserve water.

My family is doing their best to conserve water , though it’s awfully difficult to cut back that much if you’ve always been careful of consumption, which we generally have.    Around town, you can see evidence of folks who are doing their best to avoid watering their yards.  Some folks have even undertaken drought-friendly landscaping, as seen here.

And here, where artificial turf fills in limited space and provides the illusion of lush grass.

But some folks have clearly ignored the instructions all together.  They embrace the fee and water at their leisure.

And so you have folks who’ve followed instructions, taken care, and have yards struggling in the heat.

And in the same neighborhood are people who are clearly not worried about fines, let alone taking up their share of responsible water management.  Sometimes, the guilty parties live right next door to those who are following the rules.  You’d think that would make for awkward neighborhood block parties.

There are plenty of folks who have planted grass that is far too water-demanding for the arid and hot climate that prevails in the San Joaquin Valley.

This the part of drought-stricken California that you hear about the most; the area where agricultural fields lie fallow and some communities have no water left.  It would seem some of the folks who live here aren’t worried about the changing climate’s water shortages.  More troubling than that is my sense that the burden of this drought isn’t being borne by a community in solidarity.

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