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Environment & Science

Drought? What drought?

Off-Ramp commentator Taylor Orci and the hose that proves there's no drought.
Off-Ramp commentator Taylor Orci and the hose that proves there's no drought.
John Rabe

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I used my windshield wipers when it rained this week. There can’t be a drought.

There are simply too many things we do on a daily basis that fly in the face of rationing water; water, which we treat like the pigeon of natural resources. Here’s an example. The main indoor use of water for the average house is … toilets. I checked the John in my apartment and every time I flush I’m using one gallon of water. That’s a low-flow toilet--one of the good guys--but I’m still using a milk jugs worth of water every time I answer a call from nature. How could we possibly live in a drought when our quote unquote “most precious resource” is something we literally poop on and then flush down the toilet?

Sure, options like compostable toilets have been around for 30 years, but how sexy does that sound? I mean, we’d have to be in a real bind to use a toilet that uses little to no water. We’d have to be seriously thinking about converting sea water. It’d have to get so bad that people who live in the places where we get our water would be having serious health problems--like chronic asthma--because of the dust. Wait, that’s already happened? I haven’t seen it; I don’t believe it.

(1978, Highland Park. LAPL/Shades of L.A.: Cuban American Community)

Want more proof? A typical lawn uses 10,000 gallons of water a year. 10,000 milk jugs! And if you think we irrigate responsibly – negative. The EPA says half the water we use outdoors is wasted. Half. And what’s not wasted goes to our precious lawns. Lawns need a lot of water, and we need lawns. How else are our front yards going to resemble an 18th century English garden? Just yesterday, my neighbor’s sprinklers were soaking his lawn at high noon, when the water evaporates before it hits the dirt, and guess what? Water came out of my taps this morning.

In fact, I took a two hour shower today because I felt like the one hour shower I took last night needed an encore. And I hosed down my driveway this morning because I just love the regal look of wet cement, just like in car commercials.

I don’t know about you, but the way to fix a problem I can’t see with my own eyes is to wait until I very much can see it, and then panic and say it’s God’s will.

And if we really do use up all the water around us like a trucker sucking down a Big Gulp, we can always move. After all, they say Detroit has more fresh water than any other major U.S. city, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re doing just fine. 

In real life, Off-Ramp commentator Taylor Orci uses water wisely.