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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / Opinion: City of Pasadena Wants You to Be ‘Water Police’

Opinion: City of Pasadena Wants You to Be ‘Water Police’

by Terry Miller
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– Photo by Terry Miller

If They Turn On, You Can Turn Them In

By Terry Miller

In a press release issued by the city of Pasadena on Tuesday, residents, visitors, and businesses are being asked to turn in neighbors who may be water-wasters “by calling the city and reporting.”

There was an old saying in the 1960s … when it really was all peace and love and understanding. Not like today, when everyone seems to be spying on us (for better or worse.)

That famous saying was “Save Water, Shower with a friend … .” There was a terrific poster too.

Ah, the good old days, when turning on had nothing to do with overwatering your cabbage patch.
But wait, there’s more … there’s even an app for turning in your neighbors:

The press release states, “The free app will accept your location coordinates if your device’s GPS is activated and will also accept a photo. Once installed, active the app, take a photo, answer a few questions and send! The City appreciates you contacting us and we’ll do our best to respond and correct the situation.”

Come on, really – do we really have to “turn in” against our fellow man?

I tried to turn in the City on January 2nd when the Public Works department was seen hosing down the leftover debris from New Year’s Eve revelers on Colorado Blvd. with – guess what? Gallons of water.

Heck, if people are irresponsible enough not to know we’re in a massive drought of biblical proportions in our state then maybe we should act like water police; but I think it’s the wrong way to solve a massive problem.

The real culprits who waste water are the cities themselves, golf courses, and almond farmers.
Perhaps Nicolas Kristof said it best in a recent NY Times column:

“LET’S start with a quiz.
Which consumes the most water?
A) a 10-minute shower.
B) a handful of 10 almonds.
C) a quarter-pound hamburger patty.
D) a washing machine load.

“The answer? By far, it’s the hamburger patty. The shower might use 25 gallons. The almonds take up almost a gallon each, or close to 10 gallons for the handful. The washing machine uses about 35 gallons per load. And that beef patty, around 450 gallons.

“The drought in California hit home when I was backpacking with my daughter there recently on the Pacific Crest Trail, and the first eight creeks or springs we reached were all dry. The crisis in California is a harbinger of water scarcity in much of the world. And while we associate extravagant water use with swimming pools and verdant lawns, the biggest consumer, by far, is agriculture. In California, 80 percent of water used by humans goes to farming and ranching.”

The City of Pasadena also is reminding us to conserve water wherever and whenever possible. Since June 1, 2015, the City has been under its Level 2 Water Supply Shortage Plan to reduce water use by 28 percent was adopted by the City Council due to serious drought conditions.

“Fines for repeat offenders can be up to $500 per violation for residential customers and up to $1,000 per violation for commercial accounts.”

In Pasadena, these are the current restrictions on the books:
-Outdoor watering is allowed only on Tuesdays and Saturdays, before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m.
-A one-day per week outdoor watering limit takes effect November to March.
-No turf irrigation at all within 48 hours following a measurable rain. (Duh?)
-No washing hard or paved surfaces using potable water, except as necessary to alleviate safety and/or sanitary hazards.
-All master-metered multifamily properties must certify installation of water-efficient shower heads and aerators on faucets by Sept. 30, 2015.
-All identified water leaks must be fixed within 48 hours.
-Filling ornamental lakes and ponds is prohibited.
The City itself has taken additional steps to reduce its water usage, including:
-Closing the La Pintoresca Park “Splash Pad” water play facility for summer 2015.
-Removing turf from city facilities where possible, including at center medians.
-Retrofitting city medians with low-emitting irrigation systems for trees.
-Turning off all water fountains at city facilities.
-Acquiring new technology and hardware to capture water flushed from pipes during maintenance.

To report your neighbors’ misuse of water during the drought, the city has made it rather easy: However, hopefully we can all adhere to the regulations, use common sense, and conserve without spying on our neighbors. Do we really need to become Water Police Officers?

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