Conserving fresh water for people to live regular lives is as important as breathing and is essential to a quality of life … or for that matter any life at all. However, can we go overboard and are there unintended consequences? Is water conservation good?
Water is a precious commodity and although nearly three-quarters of the world is covered in the liquid stuff, less than five percent is fresh water (source: USGS). Still, we have water everywhere, but as human beings, we can only live on land so getting H2O is important and vital to keeping us, well, alive.
The water issues here in California are a concern for many and the drought has most of us preoccupied by the current problems associated with a lack of water. Even though some in urban areas don’t feel or see the devastation going on with farms and ranches alike across the Golden State, there are still long-term ramifications for our lack of rain the last couple of years and whether you live in or out of the big city, this problem is for all to contemplate.
Big cities and fish VS small towns and farmers
Currently, the state of California has determined that fish and urban dwellers will get whatever extra waters we have while independent water districts mainly in small towns and rural areas combined with farmers and ranchers will not be given any water – none. Go here for more on the states water and food war.
Since most of winter is behind us and long-term weather forecasts don’t show much in the way of rain, this problem is now a given: we have a shortage of water and conservation modes will have to be imposed.
Now you probably thought I was going to give some insane argument against water conservation – and I do like to be a devil’s advocate – yet, there’s no doubting we live in a semi-arid world in California, so saving water must be done. Conversely, with the Pacific Ocean on our Central Coast, there’s no reason desalination plants shouldn’t be popping up everywhere. And catchment systems should be ubiquitously in every crevice we can place them. People should use their god-given brain and do what’s right to conserve water the best we can.
Nearly everyone is a conservationist and environmentalist in one way or the other. With that said, do some rush-to-judgment by creating a situation where conserving has gone too far?
The power bill goes up during the summer months as air conditioners start humming. Walk on concrete or asphalt for awhile on a hot summer day and the feet let you know it’s hot. It’s why we head to parks in the summer, especially those you live in big cities, to enjoy the green grass and shade trees.
Personal story: A part of the house was hotter than the other not because it was on the sunny side of the property but instead, it was surrounded by rocks, succulents, cactus and dirt. A little research found we could cool the house down by removing the rocks etc and in-place planting grass and shrubs. Long story short, the temperatures in the warmer area of the house went down multiple degrees and in-turn, power expenditures went down. Problem solved. I only wished I had planted a very trick-like grass seed that is drought tolerant and hardly ever needs mowed – but cost was the problem there.
The heat rising during summer months notwithstanding, the advantage of a rock, cactus, succulent and dirt yard as far as water conservation was trumped by the cooling effects of grass and shrubs and in-turn a lower electrical bill. So what was the deciding factor? Comfort … and making Earth a little greener while keeping a few greenbacks in our pocket. Plus, let’s face it, lush looks better and keeps property values higher.
Here’s another small item to keep in mind. When we had the water shortages a few decades back in Los Angeles, people did what they were told to do and cut back significantly on water usage. After awhile, water departments starting complaining that weren’t making any money and raised rates – again, not because there was a lack of water, but because not enough was being used. Unintended consequences indeed.
The answer? This isn’t a zero-sum game and there is no direct answer here, only caution about racing to conclusions and instead, thinking out what actually is the best solution for each individual, town, community or state. Some might feel better about themselves if they dig up their lawns and put a rock garden in with some cactus and succulents. Some feel guilty if they aren’t appearing to doing something about our planet. That’s fine. To each his own. By the way, even ‘drought tolerant’ plants are struggling.
And again, without racing to a conclusion, let’s just keep in mind unintended consequences. Keep conserving water and in the mean time, contact your local representatives about other avenues including reclaiming water or other ideas we can come up with. Plus, it’s a good excuse to keep tabs on local politicians who seem to be more and more distant every year.
The title question is somewhat rhetorical. Let’s all do our part; but, is the current situation a rush-to-judgment on water conservation? What do you think?