Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tony Brandenburg: Water, Where Art Thou?

If this damn water crisis thingie isn't confusing enough, Governor Brown (click here) is responding one way, while the water board is responding quite another. Try walking that fine line without pissing off someone who thinks they're important in their big boy pants (click here):

Brown issued an executive order enshrining a conservation ethic in state regulations — banning permanently some wasteful water practices and ordering regulators to develop new water-efficiency standards designed to drive down long-term urban use. In doing so, Brown made it clear that the days when Californians could use as much water as they pleased are over.At the same time, the staff of the State Water Resources Control Board recommended changes to emergency drought rules that would allow communities around the state to relax or even drop mandatory conservation targets that have been in effect for much of the last year.

So apparently the governor is misinformed, but that's what politica-holics do best.....

California’s two largest reservoirs, Shasta and Oroville in Northern California, are more than 90% full. The State Water Project, which delivers supplies to the Southland, has upped its allocation to 60% of requests, the highest it has been since 2012.

So..... um,what? What does that mean, exactly? I'm getting mixed signals. I'm truly confused.

Does that mean we need to penalize people- or does that mean it's gonna be ok? Is this a catch all for panic- or a legal defense for water users who plan to contest their local cities in court? Are these punitive measures pushed through city councils going to suffice the city councils lust for cash because of their budget failure- or are they simply opening the gates for ill feelings and harassment lawsuits by once supportive citizens?

I for one believe the city is stalking me.

Twenty-five Years Later
I bought a house in Sierra Madre in the early nineteen-nineties. Probably the single worst choice I made in a  life filled with occasionally good choices. When I bought my house I had a garage hook up for my washing machine and it would spit out grey water down the driveway. Being a mechanical wizard I hired a contractor to reroute my water and now my grey water goes with the nasties and stuff to - I would imagine- a water reclamation facility in the city of planning ahead. Yes, I speak of Sierra Madre.

Back then we put in a sprinkler system to water our living room. It probably works better that my toilets do.  Then we tied in a new pipe to the sewage line because the old clay pipes were full of roots. We were so goddamn green that the city actually gave us the go signal after slapping us around a bit and charging us for some guy to check a box on a paper saying we're good scouts and follow the rules.

It costs money to care about the planet. I'm reminded every time I smog my car. And pass.

A Tree Grows in Sierra Madre
Another thing that we had going on was a water line that was watering the city's land on the other side of the sidewalk. It has watered there for 25 years. I just recently turned the valve off.

There are three Italian Cypresses on the city's side of my property. There were also nice climbing plant things that died when the watering went from three days to two days. The city used to tell me to cut them down. Like that's somehow my problem.

Now, work with me here. For 25 years I have paid- out of my paycheck - to water three  50 + foot trees on city property. In the process I have not only saved three trees (my neighbors Italian Cypresses died), but I have stopped the root system from further destroying the side walk and the street.

Both of which belong to the city.

Every Good Boy Deserves Fines
OK so I did something nice, and never even got a thank you from the city. It's like that time I held the door for that putz city attorney from Sierra Madre who was at the courthouse when we were both on jury duty together. He didn't thank me either.

I'm so butt hurt.

Anyways, the cops had been nagging me periodically about my ugly truck parked out on the street in front of my house. Owls liked to barf and crap on it. It was periodically broken and required coaxing and gentle caresses to go uphill. The heater only worked fantastically in the blistering heat of summer. The air conditioner worked spectacularly well in the winter.

But I sold it anyway.

Little did I realize that the truck was deflecting the 4 AM water showers from the city side sprinklers back into the garden. Stupid me. Once the truck was gone, the water did what water does when it's not in a container. It spilled outward.

Then I got my warning.

The Part Where I Admit to my Evil
Yes, it's true. I am evil and don't care about wasting water. Now my secret is out.

Pay no mind to the monthly statements I get from the water department letting me know that my family has met its reduction target. Over and over.

Pay no mind to the fact that we have reduced our shower use at home, stopped washing the car, and have lost two fruit trees and most of our back lawn.

Pay no mind to all of the water we catch in our containers in the yard during rainstorms while we watch more than 4000 times the amount we catch as it rolls down the Sierra Madre streets.

Pay no mind to the hours it takes me to reset the timer on my sprinklers every time the electricity goes out.

Pay no mind to the beautiful grass on the back end of the school grounds which belong to Pasadena Unified, and the park - because green grass is ok if you need it for sports and recreation.

Pay no mind to the box hedges I planted 20 years ago with family members who have since passed on, and which serve as a fence made not of cement and stone, but of beautiful plants.

I am, of course, an evil man.

The Common Good
I know it is necessary, in a city that prides itself in rewarding the compliant and punishing the dissenters, to harass and belittle them for trying to do the right thing. After all, we don't matter.

That's been made painfully clear.

It's made clear whenever I see a city worker flush a hydrant and blast water into the gutter.

It's made clear when I receive pictures of my home taken at 4 AM by workers policing in the wee hours on the tab of a city that screams 'poor' and 'more taxes' rather than to streamline and use cost efficient work hours.

It's clear when my family can stink and wear clothing 2-3 times before washing them in our water recycling machines before climbing in our filthy cars to go to work to pay for the house that is still owned by Bank of America.

Stupid Questions and J-Pop Metal
Do the water police have side jobs in landscaping?

Do they ever make recommendations or referrals for their friends who are landscapers?

Paper, or plastic? I dunno, but for ten cents a pop I shouldn't have to contemplate these exercises in existentialism any longer.

Most importantly, though, Babymetal (click hear), or Ladybaby (click hear)?


  1. Waste is waste, dude! Were you fined?

    1. I know. I admitted my evil. Not yet. I really am doing my best to get these goddamn timers right.

  2. Babymetal has my vote.Good morning

  3. City Hall spends most of its time thinking of new ways to get money out of you.

  4. God bless the city! After my "water audit" I have been given the honor to purchase more water without penalty, other than outrageous prices charged.
    BTW my bi monthly bill is $75 meter charge,$30 sewer charge,$10 UUT,and only $27 for actual water? Not much of a savings incentive less than 20% of my usage is for water.

  5. Remember when your local politician's cry and plead with residents that a serious need for change is required then those are the buzz words for, we need more money to keep the 'good ole boys & girls' in charge of a failing local governmental system liken to what happens in the DEEP SOUTH. A new window dressing is applied and they call it progress with change?

  6. Screaming for change! "Hey Mr. got a dollar?"

  7. 25 years and all that rockin'... and you still don't own your house?

    1. Does anyone who is "legit" own their house?

    2. ummmmm,ya, like people who have paid off the note.

  8. Tens of millions of people living with cancer, 60 million refugees, hundreds of millions of disabled, millions of hungry children and families, children stepping on land mines from wars that ended before they were born, entire cultures wiped out for believing in the wrong god, women and children being forced to watch their men killed before being raped and sold into slavery, and here in Sierra Madre great suffering meted out by a city wantonly skulking about in the night warning those who spill sprinkler wah wah into the street. Oh the humanity here....

    1. It is not shameful to get treatment for your anxiety.

    2. Over-dramatize much?

  9. I turned off my sprinklers that were watering the city owned property after the water police left me a note stating the water was going in the street. No problem! I could care less for the dirt patch out in front of my house. If they want it green the city can pay for it!

    1. Almost there. But my hedges, dang it

  10. I was told I owned the median but not the sidewalk. Is that not true?

    1. Your property line starts from the edge of the sidewalk edge closes towards your house, the city owns and is responsible for sidewalk, median, curb and street. You can plant dirt & rocks in that median so long as it's colorful and eye pleasing the city can not force you to do anything more! Now that's water conservation at it's best!

  11. Wow! Your life kinda sucks.

  12. The land between the sidewalk and the curb usually belongs to the property owner. The City and others have an easement over it ? If you check the property tax info ,you may find clarification that you pay tax on plot size assessed and measured up to the curb.
    It would be helpful if a knowledgeable person(not me) could clear this issue up.

  13. If you once again check your lot plot map that came with your house and land purchase the dimensions are laid out in black & white,you will see that the city and city only is responsible for and owns the property from the far side of the concrete side walk all the out to the street! Please don't cause a ruckus over California state law.

    1. Before the sidewalk was constructed , the City applied for an easement to lay the concrete. None of this changed the ownership, just the easement was new. Are we not muddling ownership = paying taxes on the entire lot vs. easement over the sidewalk?

    2. 2.43 is wrong.
      The City has an easement.
      You own it.
      Just search any legal source for "City Easement sidewalk" for the details.


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