Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Drought Intolerance

If you are reading this in any other state besides California, congratulations, you probably have water. Here in the Golden State we’re almost out. It hasn’t rained here since 2012.

I received a threatening letter from the Placer County Water Agency the other day, cleverly disguised as a “notice.”

On April 1, 2015, Governor Brown issued an Executive Order mandating a 25 percent reduction in water use in comparison to 2013.  In response to the Governor’s action, on April 16 the PCWA Board adopted Resolution 15-10 declaring a water shortage emergency.

Here’s the problem: They’re not really serious yet, because Outdoor Water Use Mandate Number One was Limit landscape watering to a maximum of 2 days per week during the months of April through November. 

If they were serious, we wouldn’t be allowed to water anything. Personally, I completely stopped watering everything in my yard in 2013. The plants that survived are feral at this point. The lawns are in bad shape. I can’t even really call them lawns anymore. “Boys, why don’t you go play on the back dirt.”

I actually stopped watering back then to save money, and as an added bonus, to eliminate the need for mowing. Then it never rained again and I stumbled into this whole “drought awareness” thing. But now I can hold my head high as I stand on the brown cracked earth in my five-thousand-degree front yard.

I care.

So, here’s the real problem. Governor Brown is mandating me, (using an Executive Order, which is capitalized to make it appear more official), to reduce my water usage by 25 percent based on what I used in 2013. Well, if I completely stopped watering everything on my property in 2013, I’m not sure I’ll be able to reduce any more than I already have. Certainly not by 25 percent.

So, for me, the accidentally ahead-of-the-curve drought-conscious citizen, will I now be penalized by an Executive Order for conserving too early? I have a bad feeling the answer is YE$$$.

If you folks at the PCWA are not so serious about the situation that you’re still letting me water my lawn, then I really don’t feel the need to comply with your Indoor Water Use Mandates, the first of which is, Limit showers to 5 minutes or less.

We can stop right there. That is quite simply impossible.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not Kramer from Seinfeld. I’m not planning on adding a garbage disposal to my shower and spending half a day in there making a salad. But the PCWA gave us a little hourglass shower timer that suction cups to the shower glass, and I can tell you it is physically impossible to complete a shower in the forty-five seconds worth of sand they’re calling five minutes.

And even if it really was five minutes, I have to take a longer shower than that. I do all my best thinking in the shower. I solve plot problems. I come up with storylines. I think of humorous anecdotes. All while in the shower. My long showers are part of my job. It’s literally (and literarily) my job to take long showers.

The PCWA is basically telling me to stop doing my job. They are trying to fire me. I take that rather personally.

And I shave in the shower, too. I cannot shave anywhere else. Once you have experienced the unbridled comfort of shaving your face in the hot shower, you can never go back to the sink. I might as well just spray carburetor cleaner on my face and rub it with a cheese grater.

In essence, Governor Brown has written an Executive Order telling me that I have to choose between growing a beard or submitting to torture. I’m not a constitutional scholar, but I believe that is a violation of my follicular rights. Or a violation of the separation of personal hygiene and state. One of those.

Now, recognizing that I require longer showers than the average non shower-thinker, I have already done my part to reduce shower times on aggregate in our house. We are only requiring the boys to shower once a month during this water crisis, whether they need to or not.

So at this point, if we’re going to achieve a 25 percent reduction from our already reduced consumption, we’re going to have to pull a Kevin Costner from Waterworld and start distilling our own pee for drinking water.

And speaking of Waterworld, if Costner’s character had a distillery that could render his pee drinkable, why didn't he just distill the seawater?

Are the people running our government here in California the same yahoos from Hollywood that couldn’t see that plot hole in Waterworld? If so, that would actually explain why we don’t have desalination plants providing us with all the fresh water we could ever hope to use. This state only has eight hundred miles of coastline. Maybe we should look into it, because we’re not going to get water from anywhere else.

Our neighbors won’t be much help. Mexico? Even if they had any water to spare, it comes with the trots, so no thanks. Arizona and Nevada? They are currently sucking on cactus leaves and thinking we’ve got it made. Oregon? Don’t make me laugh.

I can tell you, having lived in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, the people of Oregon are going to shoot at us long before they give us any of their water. They are very jealous of our weather, and rightfully so. It has been raining continuously there for the last two hundred years. We can’t trade them sunshine. Water is all they have. They won't give it up without a fight.

So, that’s where I stand, PCWA and Governor Brown. I stand in my shower. And until you’re willing to tell us we need to stop watering the outside decorations, or willing to build some desalination plants, I’m not willing to quit my job or grow a beard for you.

You can take my shower when you pry it from my warm, pruned hands.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2015 Marc Schmatjen

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