California's class-based water woes.

If you can put aside for the moment the New York Times’ stubborn use of the “farmers use 80% of the water in California” canard*, this article isn’t too bad. It certainly notes the deep class divisions that are taking place in the state.  To put it simply: the rich buy their way out of the restrictions and everybody else… can’t.

The fierce drought that is gripping the West — and the imminent prospect of rationing and steep water price increases in California — is sharpening the deep economic divide in this state, illustrating parallel worlds in which wealthy communities guzzle water as poorer neighbors conserve by necessity. The daily water consumption rate was 572.4 gallons per person in Cowan Heights from July through September 2014, the hot and dry summer months California used to calculate community-by-community water rationing orders; it was 63.6 gallons per person in Compton during that same period.

I will be fair: Jerry Brown is trying to hammer down Cowan Heights’ water production more than Compton’s. But that’s just elementary riot-avoidance. If people start getting actually thirsty – note: not “has to let the lawn die” or even “can’t bathe every day;” I mean thirsty – and other, richer people still have swimming pools full of water then things will end with large parts of California on fire. Pretty much nothing can break down an existing social system faster than a lack of water.

You will, of course, not be shocked to hear that many people in Cowan Heights (and other equally-affluent parts of California) simply do not understand that landscaping is a luxury, and drinking water is a necessity.  You will also not be shocked to hear that high-water usage areas are spawning lawsuits to keep the government from making them pay on a tiered system (i.e., higher usage means higher rates).  It’s very easy to be cynical about the Californian upper class’s utter hypocrisy about such things; after all, we’ve seen plenty of examples of it by now.

(Image derived via Shutterstock)

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*That factoid ignores the 50% of water that gets dumped into the ocean because fundamentalist Greenies hate human civilization.