I read recently that in a recent survey “Southern Californians feel they have nothing left to give when it comes to conservation. Most of those surveyed said they had done all they could to reduce water usage at home” – really?

As I ride around my area I see a lot of sprinklers inefficiently spraying water across grass verges and onto paths with gallons just going into the gutter and away… and not just residential land either, I see water spraying on the side of the freeway too.

In the UK where generally there is a lot of water available (or should be) we often enter a “drought” situation (in my opinion by mismanagement by the water companies).  There, we have what appear to be much stricter restrictions come into place such as hosepipe bans where you can’t wash your car or water your garden by means of a hose; buckets or watering cans are required.  When I was younger we even went to the point where water was turned off to homes and you had to go and fetch water from a community tap!  We also get told to not flush toilets as much and to fit devices to reduce consumption.

I don’t see anything even close to those being suggested here and many people (it appears to me) aren’t really changing anything significant to save water in their day to day usage.  Don’t get me wrong I am sure a lot of people have taken it to heart and have made efforts.  There have been some rules’ put in place about water usage but I don’t see much of it in practice;  maybe I’m just not seeing it and it’s better than it looks although it is true that we are not hitting the targets for water use reduction in this area.

The way concrete is used to line waterways and channel water as quickly as possible to the LA river (which is also concrete lined*) and then out to sea makes no sense to me.  We have had quite a lot of rain this month and it appears it was all allowed to wash away with little attempt to retain it.  Some open reservoirs have been drained due to a change in policy on open water being used for drinking water (which is fair enough), why not use them to hold water and soak into the land or as a holding area for treatment?  There are a lot of dams around, which I understand were built for flood protection and which sit open and unused –  why not close them and slow the water down so it can soak in?  It appears (to me at least) that LA’s answer to rain management it to get rid of it as quickly as possible.  Which means the LA river turns into a raging torrent every time we get some decent rain.  Seems wasteful to me.

*I understand the river was lined back at the beginning of the last century after a particularly large rainfall and many people died in the floods so lining it and fencing it off was an attempt to save lives.  There are some plans to remove the concrete in some sections and try to turn it back into a river to be enjoyed, rather than a large drain which it mostly is now.

If people really want to save water, they should be letting their grass stay dry and go brown, or if they really must have lush green grass, (which seems excessive if water is in so short a supply) fit under soil ground soak hoses instead of sprinklers which is much more efficient.  I do see some people taking up lawns and putting in drought tolerant plants which is good but I don’t see a lot of mulch going down to help retain water.

What makes me laugh (and shake my head) is that I read recently that San Diego actually has too much water now and they are struggling to store it.  And even worse they are having to buy water (which they don’t need) from the company running the desalination plant (that they built to protect themselves against drought) because they contractually have to.  The cynical side of me thinks that someone got paid well for making that deal, on the other hand if water had stayed in short supply down there then someone made a good investment; I guess it’s just a case of how things turn out.

So, is there really nothing more we can do to reduce water usage and improve the water situation?  I think there is a lot more but maybe more than people actually want to conceive.   Maybe the minority that actually have changed there ways is doing a good enough job to make a difference, maybe the recent rainfall is fixing things anyway.  I don’t know, I can only comment on what I see.  But that statement in the survey made me want to write something about it as we should never be too complacent about such a vital resource as water, there is always more that can be done.

P.S. Sorry if that was a rant, it wasn’t meant to be and I hope this blog doesn’t turn into a ranting space – I will keep a check on myself.