I read this essay a couple of days ago and got a kick out of it. She makes some great points, and she made me laugh out loud!
An Essay By Philomène Offen
With an 11,000 sq. ft. lawn-afflicted lot, and only a 1,600 sq. ft. home, my husband and I are plagued by nightmares of San Diego’s newly-created water police showing up in the dead of night. Our only question is: will they be coming for us or the azaleas?
For those of us who have been conserving water for years, who dutifully empty even the ice from drinks into our brick planter, mandatory water use reduction along with staggering rate increases are scary thoughts, indeed. We’re definitely going to have to think outside the hose. For the record, succulents prefer Johnny Walker ice to Diet Pepsi ice. One of many solutions that have occurred to us is that to keep our border plants alive, we may have to drink more.
But no, this is serious. Barring a 40-day rain, San Diego is entering an era in which water usage is going to be an issue as never before. Could the mortgage crisis pass only to be replaced by an epidemic of water bill foreclosures?
With the threat of rationing looming, my husband and I have spent many an hour surveying our property to make decisions about what we’d save and what, worst case, we might have to let die. The Sophie’s Choice of horticulture, as it were. Already we think we can hear our plants pleading with us: “Save me!” “No, save ME!” “Forget her – I bloom more!” “But I’m more drought resistant!” “Don’t believe him – he’s an annual!” Of course, we’ve thought of all the usual solutions, but with toddler grandchildren and a granddog, we’d really prefer not to have a total desert landscape. Not to mention that the estimate to convert our large corner lot to cactus and pebbles was a whopping $10,000; Astroturf would be even more. That could pay for a lot of water. But, considering the specter of $1,000 monthly water bills, maybe not. I’ll confess that I’ve cruised the fake fern department at Michael’s. They’re looking more realistic than I remember.
We’ve also considered converting our front yard to one huge vegetable garden, or, since we’re old, turning it over to sharecroppers for a cut of the produce. But it still wouldn’t reduce our water usage to the degree we’d require in the long term. Letting the lawn be taken over by drought-friendly ivy would leave us with a becoming sea of green – and a rat sanctuary. We do have lots of perfectly good (if chlorinated) water in our now-rarely-used backyard pool. Empty the pool and it cracks. Stop filling the pool and you have created an 18,000-gallon spawning ground for West Nile Virus. I don’t want to ruin a potential patent, but my engineer husband is working on some ingenious laundry solutions that involve the pool, our small outdoor rinse-cycle fountain and the nice warm concrete pool deck. Oops, I think I’ve already said too much.
But what we’ve really concluded is that Southern Californians, including ourselves, are simply going to have to embrace what we have dubbed Creative Moisture Multi-Tasking. Basically, all water use must perform at least four simultaneous functions. For example, we see ourselves showering au naturel in our front yard under the lawn sprinklers, while sudsing up with an organic fertilizer-based shampoo. Whoever finishes first rinses the breakfas t dishes while the other scrubs vegetables for dinner. Et voilÁ! In one miserly 10-minute minute watering slot, four tasks were achieved (five if you count fertilizing.)
So that’s our plan. No question about it: water rationing is going to change life as we know it. But we’re also hoping that the prospect of naked seniors cavorting under the sprinklers in their front yards will be all the impetus the local water board needs to ramp up the Carlsbad desalination project ASAP.
Philomène Offen is a freelance writer living in the Bird Rock area of La Jolla. June 21, 2009