There’s an epidemic spreading through the Bay Area these days. Not Ebola. It’s not whooping cough, measles, or even creeping Republicanism. No, it’s far, far, worse. We have an epidemic of leaky pipes.
Maybe you’ve heard that California is in the fourth year of a drought. If you’ve been paying any attention–and I know many of you haven’t (though hopefully only those of you outside of the state)–you also know that some utilities have begun releasing lists of the top water users. These are the people who go through thousands of gallons a day (the average citizen uses around 250 gallons a day, according to a recent article in the Chron.
No surprise: most of the names on the list are residents of gated communities in affluent suburbs. And the most common excuse they’ve been giving for their massive water use is “leaky pipes”.
Newsflash: The top names on the list are the president of a company that writes software for the construction industry, a construction industry lawyer, and a “well-known developer”. Wouldn’t you think they’d be able to find plumbers who could install non-leaky pipes and property maintenance personnel who could spot leaks? Frankly, I’m surprised there haven’t been any lawsuits filed by the plumbers in question over the disparagement of their work.
The comments that don’t blame those naughty pipes are even more offensive. That developer’s property manager claims that the current usage, 7,842 gallons a day, is down 75% from where it was two years ago. Think about that: Two years ago, in the second year of the drought, he was using more than 30,000 gallons a day. Enough to supply 120 average consumers. Look, I get that he’s, let’s say, “well off”, and can afford to do what he wants. But that doesn’t excuse the tone deaf comment quoted in the Chron: “We’re doing everything we can do short of letting everything die. I’m sorry we have to use that much water, but you don’t want a fire hazard, do you?”
He’s not the only one who thinks that way. The owner of a residential mortgage company has only “enough lawn for my dogs to play on” in her 10 acre property and said that “You can’t compare a 10-acre property to a half-acre property for water usage.” I can’t? Why not? I didn’t plant my yard with plants that require irrigation to survive. Sure, it gets brown every summer, drought or not, but it’s not an unattractive shade of brown–and I’d be willing to bet that I use a hell of a lot less water per acre than she does.
Which brings us to a comment from a landscaper. “It could be hundreds of thousands of dollars lost if you let the landscaping die up here. They’re not just going up there willy nilly installing lush lawns.” Excuse me? Are you really invoking the “too big to fail” defense?
Apparently so. Hey, you’re a landscaper. You should know that your clients are living in an area that isn’t water-rich even in the best of times. Did you do due diligence and advise them that their plans weren’t sustainable? Did you suggest alternatives to those “lush lawns”?
Come on, people, let the damn lawns turn brown!