Plus there is also that little matter of the State of California running out of water in a year or so. Think how colorful life will get in this part of the world should that ever actually happen. I don't want to sound too scary, but my take is both civility and decorum will be among the very first things to go. Followed by what we've always known as fairness, then democratic due legal process as water rights become something only the privileged and powerful will be able to command. And what comes after that?
Your guess is as good as mine. I doubt it will be good.
As you probably know by now, Sierra Madre, along with a few other select cities, is being assigned the very maximum water rate reduction percentage by Sacramento, which is 35%. Or 10% above the statewide average. That designation is only being assigned to those cities that are among the worst water use abusers.
To be clear, this has yet to be approved by the State Water Resources Control Board (link). But since those who serve on that satrapy are appointees of Governor Brown and serve at his pleasure, and this was all his idea, it will happen.
So how did Jerry Brown come to so unfortunate a conclusion about our little city? Sacramento established a statistical snapshot for each city in California based on its water usage, with the date used for this purpose being September of 2014. The state then set a benchmark in the amount of 150 gallons per person per month. Using this standard of measurement Sierra Madre, along with Arcadia, Pasadena and some notable others, came out looking pretty bad.
This isn't to say that a lot of people in this town did not do their utmost to lower the amount of water they use. Many residents did proper things like rip out their lawns and xeriscape their yards. But apparently that was nowhere near enough to offset the effects of those who don't give a damn. Many of whom continue even today to use vast amounts of the stuff to do things like keep their little patches of lawn green. To the point where rivers of water flow out into the street and down storm sewers.
So here is my modest proposal. Instead of expecting Sierra Madre to become a city of informants and snitches, City Hall should bring back one of the great time honored traditions of the Old West. That is offer a cash bounty to anyone who turns in a water use offender.
I figure that $500 in bounty money per person turned in, paid upon verification by law enforcement that the offender truly is an authentic and true water hog, should do the trick.
Snitching is turning in people for free. It seems like there never has been much honor or profit in that. But a bounty would change everything. Bounties are what was given back in wilder times to those brave souls who helped to fight frontier lawlessness. It helped to civilize the west during desperate times.
These are desperate times. Maybe it is time for City Hall to bring back the bounty.
The following e-mail was sent to several people at City Hall. It was forwarded to me by a friend of the author.
Dear Mr. Reynoso, Mr. Inman, Ms. Aguilar, Mr. Harabedian,
I am writing in response to the email below in which Mr. Reynoso outlines what was being done almost 7 months ago to correct the yellow water problem myself & my neighbors on Pleasant Hill Lane were and are experiencing.
Imagine my surprise when the Tattler quoted Bruce Inman as saying there have been "No new reports" of yellow water as if this were a sign of success from the $50,000 consultant hired to deal with this problem?! What is being done about my "old" problem which still exists?
There has been little if any noticeable change in my water service except there is now a new, noticeable chemical smell that accompanies the "old" smell of coagulated blood that accompanies my still very yellow water! My white porcelain tub, tile & toilet bowl require daily scrubbing to keep them at best a lightly stained hue of the rust shade that DOMINATES my plastic shower head, curtain & rings. ice maker & every other appliance that this disgusting stuff flows through. Never mind the inner workings of my appliances, what is this stuff doing to my body & my animals?!
If you need proof that this problem exists for us tax-paying citizens I will be happy to forward "new" photos & or join others who have brought samples down to City Hall.
I implore, no I challenge you to respond with a safe, healthy solution to this problem once & for all!
The author of this statement has yet to receive a reply. My guess is that given the current and very real situation, nobody at City Hall would want to put their name to it.
At the April 28 City Council meeting Bruce Inman will give a report on the water situation here in town. He will describe the efforts over the last year or so to combat the coloration of our water, along with nitrification, which is brought about by imported chloramines interacting with our ancient decayed pipes. Bruce will then describe the work being done by Hélène Baribeau (link), the consultant we paid $50,000 to fix this problem. Along with considerable additional funding that was used for things like chemicals and testing.
Bruce will then declare that this work is yet to be completed, and that the City Council needs to approve even more funding so that these tests can continue, and an eventual solution be found.
As it has now been a year, and nothing much of value has happened, the City Council should probably say no to that additional money request.
Why? Because this problem goes beyond the abilities of Dr. Baribeau, or anyone else for that matter, to solve. The real cause lies with the pipes themselves. Through decades of grossly irresponsible neglect they are mostly ancient, deeply corroded and, once combined with the chloramines our current water source sends our way whether we like it or not, produce multi-colored discoloration.
That is not going to change, even if more money is thrown at the problem.
The services of Dr. Baribeau were way oversold by Mr. Inman when he presented her hiring to the City Council last year as the happy solution to our woeful problems. That this was followed by various sunny assessments of the progress being made by Dr. Baribeau is something that has only made the public's misperceptions even more inaccurate.
We are at now the end of that road. It is time for City Hall to tell people just how bad the situation really is, and that there is precious little that they can do about it. The yellow water is here to stay, nitrification will be a constant and serious struggle, and once the weather heats up it is all going to get much worse.
No more PR, no more so-called solutions that are really little more than delaying the inevitable.
It is time for the city to cut the crap.
CBS News San Francisco: No More Playing Nice – CA Water Regulators Will Name, Shame, Fine, Even Ration Water-Wasters (link): California is done with gentle nudges and polite reminders to deal with its devastating drought.
State regulators are naming and shaming local water departments that have let water wasters slide — and forcing them to slash water use by as much as a third. They say it’s necessary as California reservoirs, and the snow on mountains that is supposed to refill them, reach record lows.
The drought has no clear end in sight, but it’s up to hundreds of local agencies, from small irrigation districts to the city of Los Angeles, to make sure California has enough water to get through it.
Since Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency last year, they’ve largely taken a soft, educational approach to curtail water use. But that’s no longer enough, he says.