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.