Earth Log

July 30, 2014

Earth Log: Drought shaming comes to your neighborhood

Fresno folks can only water landscape twice a week now. Water cops are cruising, looking for offenders. This is one of those times when you find out what kind of relationship you have with your neighbors. 

Earth Log

Mark Grossi's dispatches from the Valley battle with air quality and water use

Fresno folks can only water landscape twice a week now. Water cops are cruising, looking for offenders. 

With California's severe dry spell and a push for a crackdown on water hogs, people seem to be in a drought-shaming mood, at least according to many stories I've read.

But to me, this is not about people breaking the water rules. They will. And it's not about whether your neighbors will turn you in. They will. 

To me, the question is far more up close and personal. It's about whether or not you have a neighborly conversation before someone turns you in. Or before you turn someone else in.

This is one of those times when you find out what kind of relationship you have with your neighbors. 

Just a quick review: If the water cops catch you breaking a rule, you'll get an educational warning. Future citations might result in a $45 per day fine. The city could shut off the water after five offenses.

In addition to the twice-weekly watering limit and no watering in the winter months, you have to use a bucket and a nozzle on the hose to wash off your car.

Everybody in your neighborhood probably knows who will break the rules. So when it happens, what will you do? 

Your options include calling your neighbor, calling authorities or ignoring it. I could make a case for any of those, depending on the offending neighbor.

But at this point, I want to walk next door on both sides and strike deals with my neighbors before anything happens. I'll look out for any breach of outdoor watering rules while they're away, and they do the same for me.

We'll call each other on cellphones if there's a problem and maybe keep the city out of this altogether.

Yes, the idea could fail easily.

Another neighbor or someone driving through the neighborhood still might call the city. My neighbors might not feel like cooperating. 

You might also argue this is just a matter of keeping an eye on the sprinkler timer, especially after electricity outages.

But I think I'll at least try talking to my neighbors first.

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About Mark Grossi

@markgrossi

Mark Grossi has the pulse of the San Joaquin Valley ecosystem, writing since 1993 about subjects such as the region's notorious air quality, the restoration of the San Joaquin River and unhealthy drinking water in rural towns. Twitter: @markgrossi Email Mark at mgrossi@fresnobee.com or call him at 559-441-6316.

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