The California Drought – What’s a resident to do? (Mainstream Version)

Close up of Keith Richards skin. Also the condition several California's reservoirs. Close up of Keith Richards skin. Also the condition of several California reservoirs.

What if your tap was tapped-out? What if you turned on your faucet and the only sound you heard was the telltale groan of a creaky system run dry? Instead of water emerging from your pipes you’d be mocked by the mournful cry of Chewbacca’s melancholy wail. This decidedly bleak future from the Dark Side may yet come to pass if California doesn’t get some rain soon. May the Force reign over us and then rain over us. Having such a plentiful resource suddenly morph into a scarce commodity is a new experience to a state perennially flush with nature’s bounty. And if John Q. Public doesn’t have enough problems deciding which photos to delete from his capacity-filled iPhone, now he has to make a Sophie’s choice between watering his begonia or irrigating his wife’s petunia. I know which one I’d choose.

We are in a parched state right now – both geographically and bodily. How parched is it? I’ll tell you how parched it is: Tom Brokaw has moved here to do field studies for his latest book: The Driest Generation. It’s so dry prison wardens are pumping in sea water to replace drinking water figuring if prisoners don’t like it they can go back where they came from. Macy’s has stopped placing those little moisture-absorbing desiccated packets in their clothing because there’s no moisture left for them to absorb. It’s so arid that even cacti are complaining – of course they’ve always been a little prickly.

Governor Brown is doing his utmost to coordinate a comprehensive response from California’s 90 separate water districts. This is not an easy thing to do. That’s almost as many districts as CBS had CSI’s. The California Department of Water Resources estimates farmers use 80% of the state’s water while the other 20% is divided amongst residents, government and business. And this is all well and good. We need our noble farmers to grow our food and water our crops. But when we change the word farmer to agribusiness, suddenly the homespun logic breaks down as we imagine thirsty vultures rapaciously swilling our precious water like drunken sailors and sucking invaluable ground water from ancient aquifers to serve their nefarious short-term needs. If I reduced agribusinesses’ watery greed to a sound bite, it would sound like this: We’re all browning our lawns and they’re shipping bottled water out of state.  Or to exaggerate it even more: They’re flooding their fields with scarce liquid gold and we’re all at the zoo, taking dust baths with elephants.  

It looks like some party pooper has drained all the fun out of our Golden State’s hot tub and now we’re all just sitting around naked holding our chardonnays in our hands. As California enters its’ third year of record drought there’s hope this latest wagon-circling calamity will be defeated. Desiccated citizens are pulling together to ensure they limit their use of water, thereby preserving it for others. The rancher and the resident alike are finding creative ways to curtail their use of this precious resource. For example I’ve reduced water use by storing rain water that runs off the roof. And right now I’ve got a barrel’s worth of spider webs. Ranchers are watering cattle with all the vast warehouses of unsold Zima they’ve bought up and poured into bovine watering troughs. Yes California, together we can do this.

 

I began thinking hard about the water shortage and soon I became fully immersed in the drought – not an easy thing to do if you think about it – and I came up with several other water saving tips:

7 Water Saving Steps the Obama Administration Doesn’t Want You to Know About. (Pardon the fake drama):

  1. Desalinize Bruce Jenner. I don’t know if it would help, but it couldn’t hurt.
  2. Relocate your hot water heater from the nook in the far corner of your garage to maybe someplace within 50 feet of your shower head. This way you won’t have to wait 8 minutes for it to warm up while you pose in the mirror as a hot tub’s worth of precious water gurgles down the drain.
  3. Freeze water for later use when its scarce or gone (see online recipes at imajerk.com)
  4. Use the new water saving straw featuring a hole at only one end.
  5. Instead of doing dirty dishes, simply throw them away and buy new. It saves water and just screams noveau riche.
  6. Protest the lack of water: Occupy Lake Shasta.
  7. Birth drought-resistant children (see online recipes at imajerk.com).

I’ve taken other steps to reduce my residential water use. For example in efforts to minimize the strain on municipal water systems, I flush my toilet only one time per day whether it needs it or not. I now drink ice water with just ice and one of those new-fangled single-holed straws. And let me tell you – it sucks. I now shower with my dog and sometimes even my laundry. Desperate times demand desperate measures. I also leave little reminder notes on my neighbors’ lawns saying, “Brown is the new green.” I wonder if these reminders are related to my removal from my HOA’s board. Some have branded me a fascist eco-Nazi. Yeah, well they said the same thing about Alex Trebek too. Didn’t they? I think the fumes from the toilet are getting to me; plus I’m woozily dehydrated from trying to drink ice through a chopstick.

On a side note: It has been brought to my attention (by my colorist) that there is no such thing as a hot water heater. There are only cold water heaters. Otherwise heating hot water would be like bringing coals to Newcastle (bringing butter to Paula Deen would’ve been funnier, but I prefer the classic reference).  

Playing God

Cloud seeding has been viewed as an expedient when discussing drought abatements. Airborne weather modifiers (pilots) try to generate precipitation (rain) from clouds (big puffy white things) in the form of rain (precipitation) by seeding clouds with silver iodide aerosols (silver iodide aerosols). Some attempts have been more successful than others. If, however, it rains for more than 4 hours in your locality you should consult a meteorologist immediately.

Cloud seeding is no panacea. Some efforts to seed clouds have meet with failure because Apple and Google got there first and have taken most of the usable space in The Cloud. It also hasn’t helped that some starry-eyed pilots returning from their aborted seeding attempts have dreamily mused, “🎶 I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now. I really don’t know life…at all. 🎶” Thanks captain. Just seed the clouds and take oxygen tanks next time.

Having said that, at the end of the day, to summarize, as we move forward, in the end saving water is everyone’s responsibility and blaming others for their profligacy is counterproductive and uses way too many syllables. In superintending our water resources, if we would take only what we needed and left the rest for others that were in need, we’d be…well…umm…(I’m trying to find another word here for Communists) more like Canada. 

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