Let’s get stinkin’ serious about saving water

Chris Bateman
By Chris Bateman May 20, 2014 13:13

So now the Tuolumne Utilities District is telling us it’s for real: We really do have to cut our water consumption in half if we are to make it to the next rainy season with as much as a few cups left in Lyons Reservoir.

On its website, TUD lists the usual conservation tips: Buy low-flow toilets, take short showers, turn the water off while brushing your teeth, check your lawn’s sprinkler system for leaks and water your lawn only every other day.

As nice as the above sounds, it’s like trying to bring down Godzilla with a peashooter. TUD has a limited supply, delivers its water in 56 miles of leaky ditch and, with the specter of Global Warming, faces decades of drought ahead.

With this in mind, a few more realistic, far more effective conservation measures:

Dig a one-holer:  Old toilets use three gallons per flush and new, low-flow models use one gallon. Neither is good enough, so an old-fashioned outhouse – which uses no water at all – is the way to go. TUD offers rebates to homeowners who buy low-flow models, so you figure its water managers will be downright giddy when a customer goes one-hole. Heck, call TUD and it might just send a crew out to help you dig it. Caveat: Don’t let the county health department in on this little secret.

Live in an apartment or condo where an outdoor privy is not practical? Then hold your nose, have your plunger at the ready and flush just once a week.

Don’t shower: Sure, two-minute Navy showers can save 15,000 gallons a year. But if you’re flushing that toilet just once a week, nobody wants to be in the bathroom anyway. So why not just skip showers altogether or scale back to one a month or so? Bottom line: Cleanliness is overrated. Showers didn’t gain widespread popularity until the 20th Century, which means mankind went more than two million years without soap on a rope. Sure, you may fret about body odor, but back in the 1800s nobody knew what it smelled like – because everybody had it.

Don’t brush your teeth: Go TUD one better. Don’t just turn off the water when you brush, but skip this needless dental routine altogether. Brushing teeth only became a perceived daily necessity in this country after World War II, and we somehow survived without Crest before then. Millions of people worldwide still use twigs, porcupine quills, hog bristle or wild bird feathers to get the gunk off their choppers, and those raw materials can be found right here in the foothills. Just don’t complain to me if you get impaled on a porcupine in pursuit of your next toothbrush.

Don’t do laundry: Do you wash your underwear after just one day? Your jeans after two? Are you crazy? Since you’re not worried about body odor anymore, wear clothes for weeks or even months at a time. Once they disintegrate or stand up on their own, throw them out and buy new ones. Unacceptable? Then bring your underwear to the dry cleaner every day. Or go naked.

Don’t drink water: Last I looked, there was no beer rationing, so instead of water drink Bud, Coors or, if you’re the most interesting man in the world, Dos Equis. And, yes, I suppose you could buy beer by the keg, then shower and launder your clothes in it as well.

Don’t wash your car: We’ll have to change American culture to make this happen. We’ll all have to be like those crazy four-wheelers who drive proudly around town with their 10-foot-high rigs caked in inch-thick mud. Don’t buy a car unless it’s filthy. Replace water-wasting car washes with full-service tunnels that coat your car with long-lasting grime. That car show at Ironstone this fall? Don’t go unless organizers promise that these classics have gone months without a wash.

Buy a camel: Not even the cold hearts over at TUD are going to suggest that you get rid of your water-slurping mastiff or palomino. But if you must have a new pet amid this killer drought, make it a camel. Yes, a dromedary will run you $5,000 to $10,000, but these guys can go two weeks without water – and who can put a price on that?
Can’t afford a camel? Try a scorpion, tortoise, rattler, roadrunner or some other son of the desert that uses water only by the thimble-full.

Drain the pool: These things hold about 18,000 gallons and lose hundreds more to evaporation each day. Tell you heartbroken kids you’ve turned the pool into a skate park (But don’t tell your insurance company).

Kill the lawn: American lawns date back only to the mid-1800s. That’s when our growing upper class felt compelled to imitate members of the European aristocracy, who needlessly surrounded themselves with acres of extravagantly irrigated greensward. Before that we were way too busy with far more important stuff to bother with lawns. Now the drought is far more important, so kiss the fescue goodbye. Look at the bright side: You won’t have to mow the darn thing. And crabgrass? Who cares? Don’t smell the roses: If you must have flowers, make them plastic. And don’t go on about xeriscape; it’s time for zeroscape.     squirt-gun-566x423

Play miniature golf:  Real golf courses consume way too much water (more than 300,000 gallons a day) and, really, they amount to huge lawns.

Regulate balloons, squirt guns: Sonora High got in deep trouble earlier this year when a motorist passing the Shaws Flat campus saw kids not only playing with water balloons, but letting approximately four of them burst. The answer: Allow only responsible adults who go through a background check to buy balloons – and then only after a week-long “cooling-off” period.

Also, make possession of squirt guns a misdemeanor and possession of a Super Soaker a felony. Some leniency should be shown those who fill these weapons with beer.

Chris Bateman
By Chris Bateman May 20, 2014 13:13
Write a comment

No Comments

No Comments Yet

Let me tell you a sad story. There are no comments yet, but yours can be the first!

Write a comment
View comments

Write a comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*