Blog Action Day ... Plus One
For many reasons, I didn't get home to my computer till after 11pm. But I had most of my B.A.D post saved in draft form (hence Sunday's date, above), so thought I'd run with it today, even though it's actually Tuesday, October 16. Better late than never, hey!
... the mighty waters rolling evermore
This picture, which I took outside a service station by the side of the interstate 5 freeway, just north of LA, sums it all up for me: much of Southern California is dry, almost desert country (see the hills in the distance) and has to get over this crazy predilection for growing grass by pouring drinking water all over it.
• There's been a drought in the south-west of the US for almost a decade.
• Near the coast, San Diego's average annual rainfall is about 10 inches. In the 2006-07 rainfall season (December to March), we got 3.85 inches.
• Southern California gets its water from the Colorado River, which is filled by melting snow in the Rockies. It supplies water to tens of millions of people living in California (biggest population in the US), Arizona, Colorado, Nevada (Las Vegas, the fastest growing city in the US), Wyoming, Utah (rapid growth in cities) and New Mexico.
• The river is running low. The combination of an increasing population drawing on it, less rainfall, and warmer winters that mean the mountain snow melts and evaporates too quickly to get to the river, will, experts say, see the Colorado River unable to meet the demand for water within the next five years or so.
That's the big picture - and in keeping with the 'think globally, act locally' environmental maxim, I'm focusing on what happens in my street, because if you multiply it by thousands you can imagine the sort of horrifying waste of water that must occur all over San Diego, 24 hours a day.
In our street, you wouldn't know water was at a premium:
Walk out of my front door, at any time during the day or night, and I guarantee that eight times out of ten you'll see a rivulet of drinking water snaking along the gutter from sprinklers.
Sprinklers in my street go on too long and too frequently — automatic reticulation is a 'convenience' that comes as a package with the houses in cookie-cutterville - you don't have to think about it. One of my friends (a few blocks away, I admit) has a back lawn that is always so wet, muddy and boggy it wouldn't be out of place in the Congo. I asked her how often she watered it and she just shrugged. No idea.
Sprinklers here also spray a fine mist that blows all over the place, seldom reaching its target, and they are often inaccurately positioned, spraying all over the pavement and into the road.
Drinking water is poured on lawns and gardens regardless of the weather, or the time of day. In sunshine, most of it evaporates - but people still water their lawns in the middle of the day.
So drinking water ends up being sprayed over front paths, across driveways and the road and runs, gurgling, down the gutters, around the corner and into the drain ...
... where, replete with the pesticides, fertilisers, weedkillers necessary to keep lawns so healthy and green, it makes its way to the sea. And that, of course is another problem.
So much water runs down our street and the gutter, that tussocks of grass grows in the cracks and crevices ...
... helped, no doubt, by all the topsoil and fertilisers that flow in this land of plenty.
And it happens day and night ...
... and I haven't even touched on the drinking water that gets poured on public gardens and nature strips; nor on the fact that sometimes the water that flows past my house is bubbly (someone's washing their car); or that Dick up the street is using his hose to sweep out his garage ...