Here in Cambria, its all about the water or lack of it. Cambrians face the real possibility of our taps running dry by the fall.
Obviously, there is no one solution to water scarcity. And like land, they aint makin any more water. But we can choose to conserve and/or treat recycled waste water or, in some cases, desalinate seawater as necessary.
Here in Cambria, our water rates have been stable for years we can get up to 6 units (nearly 4,000 gallons) delivered to our door (well, household) for as little as $24 for two months (not including sewer charges, which comprise about 72 percent of the overall bill). I think thats cheap, dont you? (Private utilities know that and charge considerably more, and they may actually be less responsive.)
What we pay for water/sewer hardly covers the costs of system maintenance, salaries, studies to improve supply, and new equipment. Our town has been on a growth moratorium for more than 15 years, and hookup fees that were substantial and could have added infrastructure have been virtually frozen. (But then there has been a lot of poor management.)
Problem is, many if not most of us think of water as something that should be essentially free it falls from the sky, right? Like solar power, we should be able to harness or harvest it but its easy to forget to get it into our homes there are considerable technological challenges. Challenges that HAVE been certainly met, but at significant cost.
What I am leading up to is that cheap water, like cheap oil, is and should be a thing of the past. Id pay up to five times as much as I do now for potable, plumbed-in water heck, the bill would be, shall I say, a drop in the bucket compared to all the others, such as fuel now going for more than $4 a gallon.
By comparison with gasoline, water in my town is maybe $3 for 40 GALLONS or less than two cents a gallon!
Ratepayers are certainly justified in leveling criticisms at public officials who spend thousands or more on studies to bring more water supplies to our local population. Water delivery is seen as rocket science, and maybe it is. But stretching a pipe from one reservoir to another and then into a groundwater basin (for purification) doesnt seem that complicated. The Romans did it 2,000 years ago, and they didnt even have pipes, just clay culverts!
Beyond that, yes, brackish water recycling does involve some sophisticated equipment, which must be paid for and its simply the future of water, if we can accept drinking it.
Here in Cambria, weve debated the alternative water supply issue for 30 years (we only have wells). There are at least SIX other options, and we have plenty of rocket scientists. Weve squandered millions on studies, and nothing has gotten done so far.
We could have had multiple reservoirs off our two streams nope, didnt happen. Or water storage tanks supplied by rainwater on most properties its hardly ever been discussed. Or desal (but Im not going there in this piece!). Anyway, Im no rocket scientist, but I do know when dumb meets dumber.
Lets stop taking water for granted.
William L. Seavey has authored 33 Guerrilla Water Saving Tips. (Send a SASE to P.O. Box 1681, Cambria 93428 for a free copy.) He is a member of the SLO Permaculture Guild, which offers classes on all aspects of green living this spring and summer. Visit http://slopermaculture.net.