Monday, April 27, 2015

NY Times Visitors

If you are interested in seeing some of the water-saving efforts of residents in our area, they are grouped here:

Water saving local gardens 

For anyone interested in reading the NYT article,   it's here:

NYT article on drought

I thought the article missed an important point, that we are dealing with in our area:  for-profit water companies.  The real reason our water company initiated tiered water was for profit, not conservation.   

The adjacent municipal water company charges less than one third what our for-profit water company charges for water from the same source that costs the same.  The costs are not triple.  Our water company was able to push surcharges through the rubber-stamp California "Public" Utilities Commission to ensure that the company gets their profit whether or not anyone in our area conserves a drop.  

Fines would be a more effective way of controlling water use.  An executive from our for-profit water company, was quoted as saying tiers "sort of" help with conservation.  What they are really for in our case is profit. 

Here's the thing:  the Wall Street banksters eye water as a great way to suck yet more money out of the middle class and poor--privatizing municipal water, with the help of the GOP who have pushed the message that The Private Sector Is Always Better.   

I've read Detroit is looking at privatizing their water, and I can say, "G-d help them if they do."  Because for-profit water sucks money out of the poor, too, and is more devastating for them than it is for higher income people.  Many of the neighborhoods served by our for-profit water company are low income--Placentia and Gardena, for example.    

23 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more with what you said. I've said "God help them/us all" more than once in recent memory, regarding different issues. Time to look for a quiet and peaceful island to escape to...

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    1. An island that gets plentiful rain, and is in no danger from rising sea levels!

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  2. So glad you brought the NYT's spotlight on your water company. Privatization just seems a bad idea with utlities (e.g. Enron). Your hillside of agaves and aloes looks so colorful and lush in the NYT photo that I think it will be mistaken for high water use when it is in fact the most appropriate planting for a dry garden. Today's reading will be the 400-plus comments. (Those pups are so photogenic!)

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    1. Tried to point out the issue of for-profit water because it damn well affects the poor. Unfortunately the article came off as rich vs. poor more than about water issues.

      Yes, those pups...

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  3. Right. Freaking. On.

    Well said.

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  4. We, too, have a tiered billing system. The problem is that in rural areas, they don't come out to read the meters every month. So, we are charged a minimum monthly rate until someone actually gets out here to read the meter (usually every 3-4 months). And, that's when we get hit with the upper tier price of all the accumulated usage from the previous 3 months. Those water comanies are quite clever, actually, especially when you consider that we continue to buy bottled water because of the "earthy" taste.

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    1. Band together with your neighbors and complain? Do you have space for a cistern or storage pond?

      When we bought our house I asked the landscape architect about the possibility of installing a cistern, and she looked at me as if I had antlers growing out of my forehead.

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  5. Though I'm no fan of egregious regulation , all new homes built in summer dry climates should be required by code to have rain water and grey water collection systems . This topic goes away as soon as drought does. Or maybe I should say as soon as 'big drought' does. The city of Napa has cash for lawns program (x per square foot for ripped out lawns replaced with summer dry plants) and American Canyon to the south has banned front lawns in new housing. That's something ,but none of it addresses agriculture.

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  6. Wow - I wonder how a For-Profit-Water-Company even makes it into existence? I mean, you'd think there would be massive protesting when even the mere idea came up, not to mention such an idea making it through the legislative process. I think you're dead on - a thing like that would be devastating to low income people. Too bad the NYT didn't focus more on that...

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    1. There's a long long story to that. Briefly, about 50 years ago this area was very sparsely populated, and remained so. The few residents used the pipes that were around for the lemon growers of 70-80 years ago and the water company was a local resident and his pickup truck. The residents got an offer from a small, local, private water company to take over, and they let that happen. Fast forward a couple of decades--the small private local company got bought by a larger less local company. A decade later, bought by a larger one again. A decade later, another takeover, then another, each time purchased by a larger more remote entity. Wall Street discovered it could make money on these types of companies. Every quarter larger and larger profits are expected by stock analysts, so every year the water price goes up a lot. Our water is up something like 200% over the rate of inflation and surrounding water systems. Something like that.

      I wish the NYT would look at that, at least for the sake of municipalities that think for-profit water is a good idea

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  7. That beautiful hillside! As Denise said: "the most appropriate planting for a dry garden." Hope some of the NYT readers recognized that.

    I'll take the liberty of adding two sources I depend on when it comes to California water issues: one for California water news, and the second for commentary. For news: the great, absolutely essential (and award-winning) Maven's Notebook, by Chris Austin; and On the public record, terrific commentary by the savviest anonymous water nerd of all time.

    Speaking of privatization: here's an article on the obscene horror that is Cadiz. (Strong feelings? Who, me?)

    Hoov, thanks for caring enough to speak out. You totally rock, and your pups are adorable!

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    1. Many thanks for those links, Luisa. I'll be busy reading (since it's too hot today to garden).

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  8. My head spins, so much to consider. Glad you, your garden, and your perspective were included in the piece, even if it wasn't perfect.

    I started reading the comments on the article, stopped when I got to this one "The people in "lush" oases are our nation's job creators. Nature's greenery helps them relax and be more creative."...wha?

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    1. Well, New Yorkers, ya know? The one that irked me was "Let them eat Koi". Jeeze. How if I suggested they eat their cat?

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  9. I, too, had to stop reading the comments. They made me dizzy. They are OTL as my kids used to say. (Out to lunch). I'm wondering if some of them weren't written by "trolls", those who read forums and blogs and comments just to stir up trouble? Certainly most were written by those "outsiders" who have no understanding of what's going on here or of California climate conditions

    I also think that NYT missed a point here. Comparing Compton to Cowan Heights is like comparing apples to oranges. If Compton were compared to Baldwin Park, for instance, and if Cowan Heights were compared to, say, Palos Verdes Estates, it would make more sense. Then the outrageous charges of Golden State Water Company would clearly stand out.

    And, yeah, it's hot again, 96 degrees F and 10% humidity.

    Loved the pix of your garden inside and outside.

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    1. As comment sections go, the NYT is actually pretty good. Always amusing the commenters who ask why we don't put out rain barrels, because they have lived all their lives in a place where it rains regularly, even in summer. Well, we do put out rain barrels! The problem is, it doesn't rain!

      One good thing has been many more articles about how water is used in California--and many bloggers have been sharing links--it's been educational and enlightening. We all need to know a lot more, and question a lot more. For example, the amount of cropland allowed to lie fallow--500,000 acres. That sounds huge, but it's a small percentage of 27 million acres, which is the amount of cropland in California. I read 100,000 acres are retired yearly anyway, for development as housing or commercial real estate, or because the land is so damaged by improper irrigation it has become worthless as cropland.

      You can't solve a problem unless you thoroughly understand it, and more people need to be involved. It seems right now only the Governor and a few billionaires are making decisions.

      Yes, horrible heat again. :(

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  10. Here in the SFV, even carefully maintained (watered) lawns have had more and more bare patches in the last couple years, due to the constant high heat and dought, but it seems like very few people thought about alternatives. They just kept doing the same thing, replacing patches of turf at the end of the summer etc.
    This year it's all changed. When I drive thru the main streets, many of the older ranches that never had sprinkler systems to begin with, all have burnt out lawns, looks like people have stopped watering and perhaps can't afford to relandscape yet. Those that relandscape have picked a few options. 1. A company called Turf Terminators does an awful job but many people are turning to them. They rip out and replace the lawn for free, $0, in exchange for receiving your water rebates from the state. So no money up front, but they make $1000-7000 per lawn. They rip out front lawns and replacing them entirely with gravel or red mulch and plant little pint sized drought tolerant plants in symmetrical rows. Looks horrible. Here's a pic: http://www.ibtimes.com/california-drought-landscapers-cash-lawn-removal-rebates-1892759
    2. More fake lawns.
    3. I've also seen a few, very few, well done relandscaping jobs. I always look crazy jumping out of my car to take a look. I saw a lovely one in the midst of redo, with all kinds of unusual plants lined up for planting, very different the the big box plants I was used to seeing. So I walk over for a closer look, I'm standing there on the sidewalk and the homeowner pops out in front of me from below a shrub where she had been working. I jumped in surprise, funny but I've never seen actual homeowners working on their yards, especially landscaping. I'm the only plant girl in my neighborhood and everyone knows me because I'm the high heat, I'm standing in my garden. She was kind as can be and gave me a 'tour' of her plants & plans. We both had a laugh later because I was the only one who had every stopped to look at her beloved garden/yard and she thought I was a solicitor at first. D

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    1. 1. I saw that Turf Terminators. Oh my gosh, what a sad thing. People don't realize the next rainy winter they'll have a mix of bermuda and weeds coming through the gravel, and in a few weeks unless they have been told to water their 10 little plants they'll all be dead.

      2. some fake lawns here--I have a small one in the back for my dogs. The dogs like it, I like it. Right place, right situation--it works. Not for everyone, not for every place. In shade they are excellent because grass doesn't grow in the shade and the shade keeps the plastic cool.

      3. Lovely story--perhaps you've made a neighborhood garden friend! :)

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  11. I've been spending a lot of time lately researching berms and swales to collect and keep more water. I came across a YouTube video about greening the desert with swales, very interesting: http://youtu.be/sohI6vnWZmk
    I also liked this post with practical backyard applications : http://www.tenthacrefarm.com/2014/02/using-swales-in-the-landscape-part-2/
    I've also been contemplating taking out some rose bushes... Something has to be done or I'll be handing my children over to the robber barons to pay my water bills. :/

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    1. Roses can do well on water once a week. I can't give up roses. Just can't. Love them so!

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