The Green Debate: Why should I conserve water at home?

TracthomesI know this is heretical, but here’s the truth: I have no desire to conserve water in my home.

Why? Because when I sacrifice and struggle and change my habits and compromise my life to save water, what will happen? The developers and politicians will immediately approve more housing tracts as far as the eye can see.

And the numbers are large: the Pacific Institute think tank estimates that if all traditional washing machines in California were replaced with the more efficient models, the savings could amount to 33 billion gallons of water a year.

That’s enough water, the report states, to provide for the total household needs of more than 600,000 Californians annually.

And you can be sure that if we all spent more than $1,000 for front-loading and water-saving washing machines, then new housing for 600,000 more Californians would soon be on the way. In my opinion, there are already more houses in Southern California than this arid region, and the infrastructure, can realistically sustain.

Or, if I struggle to conserve water, the farmers, who really should be changing their irrigation methods to save way more water than we residents ever could, will put off investing in those changes.

So why should I forgo my therapeutic baths and my sweet patch of lawn and the graceful elm tree that enjoys a summertime drink of water just so more houses can get built?

I know, I know, building creates jobs for the construction industry, and I’m sympathetic to that. But maybe those workers and company owners will need to move their efforts to areas that want and can sustain growth, or maybe find other lines of work.

Am I unpatriotic? Immoral? Purely ignorant? I apologize for all that, but giving up my luxurious hot baths to make way for more development is just not logical.

What do you think?

7 Comments on The Green Debate: Why should I conserve water at home?

  1. Roger Pugliese

    I also agree with the article. The more you save, the more Developers have to use on New Ugly Trac homes. We in my community have had this very discussion and I am glad that others feel the same way.

  2. sheila

    i agree with sunsetbeachguy, but don’t believe the tiers should be based on past usage, but rather lot size (as mentioned by previous posters, past usage is unfair). people can then make their own decisions on what to use, and pay accordingly.
    it would help, of course, if SoCal would get it together and approve some simple, affordable and functional greywater systems so you could use all that bathwater to water your water-sucking lawn. win/win!

  3. sunsetbeachguy

    The answer is the market.
    Create a tiered water tariff, similar to SCE’s residential tariff.
    Baseline rates would be lower.
    The next tier up gets more expensive.
    The next tier significantly more.
    The next tier heart-stoppingly more expensive.
    The saved water would be reserved for the ecosystem. Most of the water rulings lately have gone this way anyway.

  4. Carl Heldmann

    Good for you KPR,
    California has one of the longest coastlines in the world. If Tampa, Florida can build a desalination plant, so can LA.
    Tampa’s efforts can produce pristine drinking water at the rate of 25 million gallons a day. That’s 9.125 Billion (9,125,000,000) gallons per year.
    From: The Tampa Tribune
    Published: December 22, 2007
    “Tampa Bay Water’s desalination plant is finally up and running, four years late.
    Nothing seemed to go right on the project, watched by water-restricted communities around the world.
    Bankruptcies, lawsuits, even exotic snails that clogged filters plagued the venture.
    But the plant now is operating without interruption, transforming Tampa Bay’s brackish water into pristine drinking water at the rate of 25 million gallons a day.
    The desalination plant’s production represents 10 percent of the region’s water supply. Most importantly, it’s drought-proof water that allows the utility to pump less groundwater and take less water from local rivers.
    The plant, the largest currently operating in the nation, can be expanded to produce 35 million gallons of water a day.
    No question, Tampa Bay Water made some blunders along the way, particularly in choosing its original partners and failing to recognize the importance of the pretreatment system. Project costs gushed from $110 million to $158 million.
    But Tampa Bay Water’s governing board deserves credit for sticking with the plan, sorting through the problems and making sure this alternative water resource became a success.
    Thanks to the board’s perseverance, the region has a water source that, regardless of rainfall, will help meet growing water needs without compromising natural resources.
    Better late than never.”
    We’re not running out of water, just solution minded citizenry.
    Carl Heldmann

  5. Anne Carr

    I totally agree. You really make a good point, however, I still don’t feel the need to lower myself to the level of others who don’t feel they can make a difference so why bother. I feel that a lot of talk and press does a lot of good. While I don’t think you should forgo your bath or any other form of small relaxation methods, keep talking about it and make the big consumers of water, power, and gasoline, etc. feel guilty themselves. One small step…

  6. Sue

    My husband and I have this conversation pretty regularly concerning all types of conservation. We agree with you; if we conserve, others will just use more. People will continue to crank out more kids who will use up the excess resources, other countries will refrain from making positive environmental changes to their policies because why should they? The good ol’ US is cutting down pollution and energy consumption so we can pollute and use more!
    The true issue is the explosive growth of the population of the world and until that is addressed no amount of conservation is going to help anything.

  7. Brent

    Back in fall, when I was contemplating the dire consequences of continuing drought and water rationing I noted that, “Ironically, the highest water wasters are better off in a drought situation than those of us that have conserved in previous years. This is because water allocations are based upon your previous history of usage (usually during winter months when non-wasters wouldn’t use much outdoor water). Users with historically high water usage are assumed to have greater water needs, a not unreasonable going in position. However, this also favors the waster who has a lot more easy remedies to live within their new water allocation.”
    A friend’s husband has laid down the law; they will no longer do any unilateral conservation because of a history of being punished for being conservation-minded. For example, in 2000 they conserved electricity and were not able to take advantage of a rebate program for those that reduced usage in 2001.
    So enjoy your baths. We won’t point any fingers.