Joetopia

Fees, not fines, for Cambria water issue

jtarica@thetribunenews.comSeptember 22, 2013 

Joe Tarica

Our water problems seem to just get more and more absurd by the day. Word out of Cambria now is that residents are banned from using potable water for any kind of outdoor irrigation.

This news came Friday when the Cambria Community Services District board unanimously voted to enforce the strict conservation measure as a way to help preserve the community’s dwindling water supply.

I don’t live in Cambria, so I can’t fully appreciate how grave the situation is there. But this seems a bit extreme.

If you get caught sneaking around with your watering can trying to keep your begonias alive, you’ll get smacked with a $50 fine.

Keep doing it to maintain your vegetable garden, and the fines go up for each violation … $150, $250 and finally as much as $1,000.

But it doesn’t stop there.

If you’ve already shelled out upward of $1,400 and insist on continuing to try to keep your lawn alive, you could face the ultimate indignity and have your water shut off altogether.

Yipes.

Obviously this is a worst-case scenario, and it’s not clear just how vigilant the district will be in enforcing the ban.

Will water squads be roaming the pines in the dark of night looking for running sprinklers?

Or will the district have to depend on one neighbor peeking over the fence and blowing the whistle on another?

Most likely, actual enforcement will be pretty limited and this step is more of a scare tactic than anything else.

Yet, it’s already spawned even more absurd scenarios in its first day.

Like the district’s thought to park a truck of nonpotable water near the Veterans Memorial Building so residents could tap it for all their irrigation needs.

Apparently, they already offer this free water at district property, but how many people do you know who have a water tender handy?

Personally, I’m picturing bucket brigades, only the end of the line finds not a burning house but a patch of thirsty geraniums.

Are they serious?

Regular folks are supposed to lug home jugs of water and then do what with it? Fill spray bottles and run back and forth spritzing the grass?

Even if you do have a spare, empty and clean oil drum in need of a useful existence, how do you get the water into your irrigation system?

Maybe you set it in the middle of the yard, open the top and splash it around.

I don’t know, but this doesn’t seem like a viable solution.

Surcharges on above-average users seem like a wiser idea.

Not only does this deter people from wasting water or using more than their share, but it also raises additional money for the district.

I see where board members are coming from with the ban on irrigation, and obviously you’d hope people would pitch in and reduce this particular use.

But this move seems a bit draconian.

Then again, I have plenty of water at my house.

With that, I can only say this: Pray for rain, Cambrians. Pray for rain.

Joe Tarica is the presentation editor for The Tribune. Reach him at jtarica@thetribunenews.com or on Twitter @joetarica.

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