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Local opinion columnists

Stop wasting water – or else!

By From page A7 | July 17, 2014

The unscientific Daily Republic website poll this week asked, “Should the state enforce mandatory water restrictions with fines?” As of this writing, “no” was getting 57 percent of the vote. Sorry no voters, but you’ve lost.

The State Water Resources Control Board on Tuesday approved local law enforcement and water agencies to levy fines up to $500 a day for those who waste water. The move comes after it was found that 70 percent of water districts had not approved water restrictions, even though we’re suffering under the third-worst drought in California history.

Those watering their lawns until water runs down the sidewalk and street are subject to fine. Washing cars without a hose with a shutoff nozzle is a no-no. Hosing down driveways and other flat surfaces and running fountains with potable water are restricted.

The sad thing is most of these so-called restrictions are things we should be doing even when we’re not enduring drought conditions. Getting a low-flow shower head drops water usage from five gallons per minute to 2½. Solanosaveswater.org also has tips like only watering plants and lawns every other day between 2 and 6 a.m.

But what compounds the problem is that issues that used to be bipartisan or nonpartisan – like conservation, championed by Republican and Democratic presidents alike – now often deteriorate into partisanship. Efforts to clean and preserve our environment and protect resources are often pitted against climate-change deniers, job creation and an absurd new definition of liberty.

The National Climate Assessment released in May says that drought is likely to be a persistent condition because of climate change. I’m afraid that might make climate-change deniers believe the drought is overblown. But it’s worse than people think.

Lake Berryessa is at 70 percent capacity and is expected to be at 50 percent a year from now.

For some reason, whenever the government announces guidelines or suggestions – whether it be serving healthier school lunches, exercising more or driving less – a certain segment of the public views it as an egregious assault by Big Brother on their freedom.

These folks seem determined to preserve their way of nonpreservation.

We also found out Tuesday that despite Gov. Jerry Brown’s call for Californians to take shorter showers and limit water use, water usage actually crept up 1 percent.

That said, at least 80 percent of water usage in California is agricultural. So while the general public shouldn’t waste water, if the state really wants to conserve, it has to go where the water usage is. The majority of California farms irrigate their crops by flooding their fields. If switching to a drip system were mandatory, we’d save a lot more water than everyone limiting his or her showers.

Some have suggested Californians (and presumably the rest of the nation) change our diets. Since it actually takes a lot more water to produce meat than vegetables, if we all reduced or eliminated our meat intake, we’d save a lot of water. Plus, since livestock produce more greenhouse gases than cars and factories, it would be great for the environment, too.

But realistically, we haven’t been able to get people to take shorter showers. Do we really think they’re going to give up burgers and barbecue? Peace.

Kelvin Wade, a former Fairfield resident, is the author of “Morsels” Vols. I and II and lives in Sacramento. Email him at [email protected]

Kelvin Wade

Kelvin Wade


Discussion | 3 comments

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  • 2realJuly 17, 2014 - 6:05 am

    Control control control is all they want. =socialism

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  • Keep on waterin'....July 17, 2014 - 1:49 pm

    Kelvin, perhaps you may wish to look at another side of the drought. How did we get here? Inaction by our legislature has prevented dam building or desalinization. Perhaps we should fine the SWRC instead of saddling the homeowner/taxpayer. What's going to happen now? People will change their water hours, not habits. Example: a neighbor used to water at midday. They've now changed to early morning and late evening. Many others are doing the same. Others are looking at it this way: If I have the money to pay for it, then I'll use as much as I want. Even if you think this is wrong, people are still doing it. Not saying your column is wrong, but, like paying taxes, people will try and find a way around it.

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  • JazzAzzJuly 18, 2014 - 7:08 am

    I keep reading that this is the worst drought in Calif history, but I have to say, HUH?????? Lake Berryessa is still at 70% and as I recall, one of the last droughts (Was it somewhere around the end of the 80s, beginning of the 90s), the lake was so low, that the town of, Monticello, was beginning to be seen again, and we were told that it would take many years to refill. Yet when the rains began again, being how that lake is so large, and the water ran down from all around it, it filled back up overflowing the, "Glory Hole," rather quickly. Now rather to restrict us ALL, with such draconian rules, I suggest that state board re-consider at looking at the violators, while for example, in the Sacto area, people have cut back (Per channel 13 news) -13%, while in Southern Calif, those water hogs have increased +8%. I for one have cut back 25% from previous seasons, and I am sorry, but have too large of an investment in my Sod, so will not comply, AND I HAVE MY WAYS TO NOT BE CAUGHT!!!!!! Now if the rains do not begin again this winter, then I will comply further, BUT will not goose step in line NOW!!!!!!

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