Welcome to the real Hotel California where the endless use of water is a mirage

Letting the water run while you brushed your teeth this morning?

If you haven’t fully turned on the faucet and brushed your teeth properly, you may have sent a cup or two of water down the drain while you were doing the job.

No big deal, right? It’s just a glass of water.

But if each of the 88,000 people in Manteca did the same thing, you’re talking about 5,500 gallons a day. This is the water consumption per capita in one day for approximately 140 people.

Why bother adjusting wandering sprinklers? It’s just a “small” stream of water running down the gutter.

It’s a pain to set the irrigation system timers, isn’t it?

Who cares about watering from midnight to 5 a.m. when that’s the optimal time for vegetation to absorb water and evaporation is at its lowest?

Water is cheap.

Also, if you pay for it, no one should tell you how to use it.

You might want to check out the cavalier attitude about water at the door.

Your stay at Hotel California is about to change.

On Tuesday, the state basically ordered all non-essential turf – with the exception of green eye candy, many of us fertilize, overwater, then cut too often, then way too low, requiring even more water to protect him from burns in brutal California. sun – to be completely weaned from Golden State water engineering work and be allowed to die.

If you are enraged by the state’s decision, that is clearly misdirected rage.

The real crime of government here is the foot-dragging that prevented what needed to be done from happening sooner.

California is making a course adjustment. If we don’t, not only will we go up the creek without a paddle, but the creek will have no more water.

The most embarrassing news Tuesday wasn’t that the state was disconnecting most non-essential land starting June 10.

It was like a story explaining why some big cities in the West like Los Angeles that divert water from the Colorado River Basin have sufficient water supplies. Readers of the article titled “Explainer” were told that this was because LA et al had developed alternative sources of water.

Water use in California has not been in a vacuum for over a century. To put it otherwise is grossly misleading.

Los Angeles also drains life from the Owens Valley to import snowmelt that nature never intended to find within 150 miles of the Pacific Ocean. The City of Angels and its neighbors also operate the state water project to divert snowmelt from the slopes of the Western Sierra to deprive it of use by the basin’s natural water users.

Both regions are in the grip of a drought made worse by water exports to coastal basins in southern California.

And as reprehensible as that may sound to those who still view the water wars as a North-South feud or even a coastal-inland California tussle, that’s not what’s most embarrassing.

The Los Angeles Basin – for the most part – has done a Herculean job of reducing per capita water use since the 1975-76 drought. Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon—as well as most communities in the Central Valley—now exceed the per capita water consumption of typical cities in the Los Angeles Basin.

It is a reality 180 degrees different from that of 42 years ago.

Water consumption per capita has also decreased here. The big difference is the density and size of the average housing plot.

Ninety percent of the LA basin is non-lot homes with average overall lot sizes of 7,000 square feet and above. We continue to build more with approximately 7,000 more units out of nearly 11,000 in the approval pipeline yet to be built in the same category.

That said, Los Angeles and places like Las Vegas literally live on borrowing — that is, supplying — water from a pond.

Water from the Owens Valley watershed was never meant to flow farther south as Owens Lake, which is now a dusty, near-puddle version of the massive, vibrant lake teeming with wild animals as it was before LA took it over a century ago. .

The same goes for water that is pumped repeatedly to flow uphill and into the LA Basin that would normally have drained into San Francisco Bay from the far north and south on the slopes west of the Sierra.

This is not a lecture on how to undo the ringing of a bell that cannot be undone.

It’s more of a wake-up call that makes us all realize in many ways that much of California, whether it’s Manteca or Lathrop – or Los Angeles and San Diego – lives on water beyond our natural means, even with elaborate plumbing, storage and water supply systems. we created.

Water conservation measures that gained momentum after the 1975-76 drought bought California time.

The current drought has clearly pushed us into the danger zone.

The state mandate issued Tuesday regarding non-essential, non-residential turf is unprecedented.

It may not be until later this year or the next or even the next series of drought years in the ongoing mega-drought, that the edict that will come into effect today will become as mainstream and universally accepted. than low-flow showerheads to stretch the water supply.

Tuesday’s directive is just the tip of the melting iceberg. Rest assured, there are more water cuts and water bans along the way.

And as likely as it is to fall on deaf ears, nothing is right: it’s time for Manteca to ban the use of sod in all new residential front yards.

Outdoor water use easily accounts for over 50% of the water used in this city, with lawn irrigation being by far the largest water user.

The front yard lawns are basically a feast for the eyes. There are other forms of landscaping – shrubs, groups of trees and the like – that use less water and can even reduce heat production, which in turn can reduce electricity consumption needed for cooling. the houses.

The idea that lawns in the Midwest – or even on the south or east coast – could have been sustainable in the climate of California, Arizona and Nevada where rainfall is less than half of what it has – is laughable at best and tragic at worst.

Welcome to the true Hotel California where the endless use of water is a deadly mirage.

This column is the opinion of the editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at D[email protected]

Nicholas E. Crittendon