By Ruth Gadebusch
It is time for those beyond the agriculture world to get serious about our water. Despite all the talk about the drought, not many seem to be taking it seriously. It is for someone else to be concerned about, if thought about at all.
How anyone could be unaware seems impossible due to daily reporting by all facets of the media. We eagerly await the various weather reports, but still it appears to be more talk than action. By action, I mean people actually changing behavior regarding conservation of water.
Beautiful green lawns abound in Fresno or, for that matter, in our entire state. They certainly add to the appearance of the area, but is that best use of our precious resource? Should we have a bountiful water year, the lawns could be revived. Not so with the more permanent landscaping plants. One could even argue that these shrubs and trees reduce the need for air conditioning and therefore justify the water required to keep them going. Still, it would seem a questionable use with the devastation coming to our commercial orchards. At the very least, we should concentrate on low-water-use plants.
Farmers are frantic about the long-range effects on agriculture and the workers whom they employ. It should be evident that we are in this together requiring all of us to make lifestyle changes; however, it doesn’t seem to be happening. Arguably, the most visible of our careless water use is the water running down our gutters. How far can you drive on almost any day of the week without seeing this wasted water?
We often see reminders on just how the drop, drop, drop of a leaking faucet adds up—far beyond what most of us would guess. Nor have I seen or heard of a single news report reminding us of the water evaporating from swimming pools, many sitting idle with children leaving home or other changes eliminating use. Nor do I recall seeing any reports of the pool-building contractors finding limited clients.
Heaven forbid, but maybe it is time to take a look at the American fetish of daily and more showers. Few other places on the planet, including areas with plentiful water, are so devoted to such frequency. Granted, showers are among the things that make our lives more pleasurable. I have traveled enough to catch the aroma of the more limited bathing (and deodorant deprived) societies. Still, there are concessions to be made before we reach mandatory rationing.
Any plumbing supply store is filled with showerheads that encourage one to stand enjoying that wonderful feel of the soothing streams or massaging sting. Then there are the high-end designs with multiple showerheads. They are not designed to enable a quick in and out experience. Then too, consider how much water is wasted waiting for the heated part to arrive—often times from the far side of the house.
As for the water required for fracking, is the oil/gas or the water used in its production more important? Which is necessary for survival and which simply makes it more convenient? We won’t even talk about pollution whether from fracking or other sources.
Suffice it to say that be it short or long term we must be more thoughtful in our use of our water.
Ruth Gadebusch, a community activist, is a veteran, a former member f the Fresno Unified School Board and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and an emeritus member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Civic Education.