It’s the landscaping, stupid

In communities that fully reuse their wastewater (Albuquerque and Las Vegas do this now, for example, by returning sewage treatment effluent to the water’s source), it’s outdoor water use that dominates the water supply equation. And here in the arid southwest, sooner or later everyone will fully reuse their wastewater. This is not an argument against indoor conservation – it still has enormous value, in reducing the amount of water that must be pumped, treated and then returned. But outdoor conservation is where the big water supply action’s at.

Which is why this quote in Teresa Rochester’s Ventura County Star story about rising water rates and drying yards in Thousand Oaks, Calif., is so hilarious:

“It’s not like we’re fat, selfish cats sucking up water, man. It’s the landscaping,” he said. “The city fathers are proud to show people this neighborhood.”

Public understanding is hard. Comes slowly.


  1. Soooo here’s a fun tension:

    much of our older housing stock is poorly insulated (thus the genesis of the ‘cash for caulkers’ programs). The climate is generally warming. We use trees as a substitute for insulation (but they have many other benefits as well). Trees need water. A USFS scientist did a paper that calculated that planting – IIRC – 5M trees would avoid the building of 17 fossil-fuel plants to power the air conditioning, and even with the water needed to keep the trees alive there was a net benefit.

    Point being: if we are going to stop watering the landscape with drinking water, we must retrofit our buildings to be better insulated, because many of the trees will die and we’ll lose their shade benefits. Which will worsen the UHI and exacerbate low-level ozone cardiopulmonary problems.

    Fun, huh?



  2. I love the way the comments on the article rapidly devolve into partisan bickering. It’s just like any article in the Boston Globe, although instead of water, our arguments tend to start with the question of whether the carmen’s union or suburban-voter-driven underfunding are the true cause of everything that bedevils the transit authority, and rapidly move on to immigration policy, and calls of “why don’t you just move to New Hampshire?”

  3. That’s pretty funny. He doesn’t want to subsidize the water use of those who conserve. But he wants everyone else to subsidize his water use. Fine, impose flat rate pricing, then include the scarcity value of the water – see how the bill looks then.

Comments are closed.