I hate the fact that my lawn is dead. Brown, barren, now not even weeds will grow. That tends to happen when you stop watering it.
When we first moved into the house, the front lawn was basically dirt and I grew the lawn from seed. Even a sewer line break and a subsequent required 3-foot ditch did not dissuade me from returning it to green. I took a lot of care in keeping it alive and green.
But the last time I watered it was January because the usual winter rain did not come that month. I thought February would be better and I should keep it alive until the rains came. They did, a little, but not very much. And it hasn’t really rained since, because, well, we are in a drought. I know this not because the governor declared it, I know this because it hasn’t rained. And while I like having a green lawn, I get it, we need to conserve water.
Along with other conservation measures, I’ve seen my water bill drop by about a third. That may be nice, but it’s not the point. I would gladly pay that extra money for a green lawn but am doing it because we are in a three-year dry spell with 2013 being the driest year on record. In February, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission issued a 10 percent voluntary rationing request. It seems others might be like-minded and also do their part.
Alas, no. In going to different areas of California, it seems as if others have not gotten the message. Even in Folsom, the poster child for drought with its reservoir reported to be at 17 percent of capacity in January, lawns are green all over. Other cities, including those in San Mateo County, also have plentiful stretches of green expanse dotting neighborhoods.
A recent USC/Los Angeles Times poll indicated that nine out of 10 people see the drought as a “crisis or major problem,” however, it does not appear that concern translates into anyone doing anything about it as evidenced by how many green lawns there are.
I’m not saying I’m a prince among men because I’m conserving water. I’m just trying to do my part. And I get the urge to continue using water because brown lawns look bad and this is America, where we can do what we want, right? But it is also an American characteristic to make sacrifices for the greater good.
We receive our water from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which still has supply, but the storage system is at 64.5 percent of its 117 billion gallon maximum capacity — nowhere near ideal.
So what’s next? Both the SFPUC and the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, which represents cities and water districts on the Peninsula, have decided to evaluate water usage every month to determine if we will be required to conserve or pay penalties. What those penalties might be has yet to be determined, but it will likely mean higher rates unless we reduce our usage. Herein lies a possibility for injustice — if we all must lower our water usage or face penalties, does that mean that those who are already conserving must lower usage even more? And does it mean that those who aren’t conserving at all will have to lower their usage just a bit to avoid penalties?
It’s something to keep in mind for those in a decision-making position about penalties. After all, my lawn can’t get any browner.
So how about it green lawn people, can you get with the system?
Jon Mays is the editor in chief of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonmays.