The Water Crisis

We’re facing fresh water shortages around the world. People in America tend to think that water is just going to be there, but with smaller snowpacks, development and pollution, water is getting scarce. The movie Tank Girl is centered around this issue. There is no water, leading to rationing, which leads to cult favorite movie. LOL!

In one Tennessee town, water rationing has already begun:

Three days a week, the volunteer fire chief hops in a 1961 fire truck at 5:30 a.m. – before the school bus blocks the narrow road – and drives a few miles to an Alabama fire hydrant. He meets with another truck from nearby New Hope, Ala. The two drivers make about a dozen runs back and forth, hauling about 20,000 gallons of water from the hydrant to Orme’s tank.

“I’m not God. I can’t make it rain. But I’ll get you the water I can get you,” Reames tells residents.

Between 6 and 9 every evening, the town scurries. Residents rush home from their jobs at the carpet factories outside town to turn on washing machines. Mothers start cooking supper. Fathers fill up water jugs. Kids line up to take showers.

Think about that. This is America, 2007. Even though Orme, TN was never on the cutting edge of technological advancements, still the fact that water rationing in this town is so severe that it should serve as an alarm for larger, denser areas.

Like Atlanta, GA for example. Atlanta is served by Lake Lanier. A lake that is dropping at an alarming rate of one foot a week. 3 weeks ago, officials stated that the fresh water supply could be gone in 30 – 90 days. Despite that announcement, the city has not implemented water restrictions to it’s residents and businesses, instead focusing on blaming environmentalists:

Yet while Georgia’s leaders try to cast the water shortage as a battle between 5 million people and a few mussels — with the message that greater priority should be given to Atlanta residents — there is a growing sense that the metropolis itself is the problem: Critics say Atlanta’s rapid population growth, coupled with blithe disregard for water conservation, is straining the region’s ecosystem.

Because of Atlanta’s location (no where near water), resentment in other parts of GA and the south are growing against the populous city. Conservationists suggest that housing developments be shelved until a water solution is found AND implemented. City officials, apparently more afraid of dwindling campaign funds than potable water for their constituents, are crying foul.

The rich and poor, black and white got need for it (That’s right)
And everybody in the world can agree with this (Let em know)
COMPSUMPTION promotes health and easiness (That’s right)
Go too long without it on this earth and you leavin it (Shout it out)
Americans wastin it on some leisure shit (Say word?)
And other nations be desperately seekin it (Let em know)
~New World Water
Mos Def

Atlanta has a population around 4 million people. You have a lake where you have, at best, a 3 month supply of drinking water. Searching the internet and reading LTE from Atlanta denizen, you see the sense of urgency is lacking with some people. There are several comments of “There’s drinking water in the store.” Many of them buying into the pro-business propaganda of “it’s the mussels fault!”. Luckily, there are many more who are aware of the situation and are writing LTE with suggestions on how to save water. Long time residents see how unchecked building has lent a hand to the situation. That’s not to say that overdevelopment the sole reason for the shortage. The entire South is facing a historic drought right now, it’s up to local governments to determine how to deal with the situation.

In Long Beach, the local government has gone proactive in getting a handle on the water situation. The Long Beach Water Management District, with the City’s backing has created regulations forcing residents and businesses to conserve water. It’s a shame that it takes bureaucracy to get people to do what they should be doing in the first place, but there it is:

Long Beach’s water board has prohibited its residents from watering their grasses during the day, limiting it to only 3 times a week, and prohibited the use of water hoses to clean driveways, sidewalks and other paved/cemented areas unless they use pressurized water devices. Its restaurants are not allowed to serve customers water unless specifically requested to do so, and hotels are required to give guests the option of reusing towels and linens without having them washed on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, the city of Los Angeles is still dragging its feet. I live in Los Angeles and have been following this and it’s amazing to me, how little our mayor is doing on this. He’s definitely talking a lot, but actions speak louder than words, blah, blah, blah. Just driving around the city, looking at the City’s properties, our streets and approved overdevelopments, you see water wasting. For example, ideally you should water your grass (if you still have grass for whatever reason), either in the morning or in the evening. That way the water gets to soak into the ground before the sun gets to evaporate it. Well, you can drive by city properties and see the sprinklers on for half and hour at 1pm. Recently, on Huntington Dr. near my house, the sprinklers were running for 45 min. while it was raining. I used to live near Melrose Ave. Instead of sweeping the sidewalks, shopkeepers watered down the concrete. Many of them had leaking faucets, leaving puddles of water along the sidewalk.

You can laugh and take it as a joke if you wanna
But it don’t rain A FULL WEEK some summers
And it’s about to get real wild in the half
You be buying Evian just to take a fuckin bath
~New World Water
Mos Def

On Twining St. near my house, there is a lady who neglects her own small yard (it’s about 4 feet deep and maybe 18 feet wide). While her grass is brown and crispy, the tree in her parkway is huge and she waters it daily. She also waters the actual street for about 30 feet. That’s how she chooses to get the leaves and seeds into the gutters. Not far from her, there’s another house where the lady there has decided that almost hitting the grass in the parkway is good enough. She floods her sidewalk, while the grass browns. My neighbor’s sprinklers come on twice a day for an hour each time. Ran or shine.

In the city of Alhambra, on Poplar Blvd. I drove by a house. There was a man on the lawn with a water hose. At first I thought he was watering his lawn. As I drew closer, I realized he was using his house to get the leaves off the grass. This is only noteworthy because I could see maybe 30 leaves on the grass. He was using the hose to get the leaves to the sidewalk. About 15 feet away. I shook my head and went on to Target. About 45 minutes later, I drove back home and he was still out there. He got most of the leaves down to where he only had about 8 feet to go. I had to stop and tell him to pick up the leaves. Water was just running down the sidewalk, to the point where it was flooded.

These are just snapshots of what’s going on around the city of Los Angeles water wise. I’ve seen more and I know that people don’t care. While our water crisis in Los Angeles is nowhere near as bad as it used to be back in the 80s and not as dire as the situation in Orme or Atlanta, some kind of restrictions and education could be useful in helping stave off a desperate inevitable. We need to not only start thinking about water usage, but actually acting on it. Considering we humans need water, the corporations and governments who determine that it’s too expensive to do anything are only condemning their customers to death.