COLUMN: Drowning in denial over water conservation

While the great majority of residents are understanding, there are a few who think it’s their “right” to use water as they wish...

“I pay my taxes! No one is going to tell me I can’t water my lawn!”

It’s hard to believe anyone would make such an ignorant statement of self-entitlement, but that sort of comment is not uncommon in response to the city’s recent total ban on lawn sprinkling.

While the great majority of residents are understanding, and willing to let their lawns go brown, there are a few who think it’s their “right” to use water as they wish.

After all, they’re paying for it, right?

Yes, we all are. And with the exception of those who have their own wells, we all share the same water source.

And it’s oh so finite.

We’re a far cry from California, which is facing a frightening water shortage crisis.

Nevertheless, we’ve just gone through an extremely dry spring, and are now seeing heat records fall through June and early July.

Lakes and creeks north of Mission are our primary water supply, as they are for that community as well.

One of those lakes is now at a historic low. And in June, another record was set with just 12mm of rain compared to a normal of 75. If the dry weather continues through the rest of the summer and into early fall, will we have enough water?

Not without continued, and likely increased, conservation.

What is particularly irksome about the “water wastrels” is the prevailing attitude that stewardship of the resource is somehow someone else’s concern, particularly government.

But governments can’t make it rain. They can only order citizens to lower consumption, and enforce it, which seems necessary for some folks.

And if the scofflaws do get dinged for ignoring the ban, wait for the indignant howling about how the city is sprinkling playing fields, or why the water park is still operating.

In the case of the latter, it’s on a motion-activated system; and in terms of sports fields, some are being kept green with well water, and the city will keep them in operation for public use as long as it’s feasible. But ultimately, that will all have to be shut down too, if conditions demand.

Regardless, pointing to other examples of dubious water use doesn’t excuse ducking individual responsibility.

I expect we will (and should) soon see bans on washing vehicles and driveways, refilling swimming pools, and running the sprinkler for the kids to play in.

Hey, buddy. Not only is your lawn brown, but your car is dusty too. Now there’s a crisis.

Officials say we’re probably OK for this summer, given consumption conservation measures.

The long-term concern is next year. If we have another relatively dry, warm winter that fails to build “normal” snowpack levels, followed by another dry spring, reservoirs won’t refill, and we face a far more serious situation next summer.

Maybe the $300-million Stave Lake new water supply project that Abbotsford voters killed in a referendum four years ago wasn’t such a bad idea. Put aside the P3 paranoia and corporate control conspiracies. There’s a real bogeyman out there. It’s called climate change.

Go ahead, pooh-pooh global warming which, of course, is another evil Big Money (or government) plot. Dismiss the science as junk.

Drown in denial as long as you can.

A few decades ago, Valley winters commonly featured weeks of snow. Springs weren’t anything but wet. I remember October hunting and fishing in the Interior in sweaters and jackets, not T-shirts.

But, keep braying about your precious lawn and your tax-paying “rights.”

Don’t think about a worst-case scenario created by the “I’ll-use-as-much-as-I-like” mentality, in which the tap doesn’t produce, and the toilet won’t flush.

Then you can complain to the neighbour’s cat, because you’ll be outside squaring off with it for a spot in your flower garden.

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