Broke and Bone Dry: California Water Utility Companies are Essentially Fining Californians for Conserving Water!


I. am. so. thirsty…

It’s been a rough four years here on the West coast. A record drought has ravaged the land year after year and everyone has been feeling the effects. For two years in a row, farmers have had to fallow over a half million acres of land each year. Birds burst into flames spontaneous and drop from the skies like small squawking comets. Reservoirs are receding at alarming rates leaving little more than dried cracked earth and masses of huddled boats and extremely nervous fish.

I often liken it to living on the surface of the sun. When traveling about town, I find it prudent to make slow furtive movements, like that of a tortoise, in hopes that I do not dehydrate into a pile of dust like an ill-stowed mummy. I keep looking to the heavens in search of the giant child with a magnifying glass here to dole out karmic retribution for the evils of my youth.

As a gardener, I feel the effects on a profoundly deep and personal level.  But I’m not alone; it has gotten so bad that Gov. Jerry Brown (ex-lead singer of the Dead Kennedys*) has mandated a mandatory state-wide 25% reduction in water usage. In short, it’s been bleak people!

Mind Your Dirt urban “farms” has done its part in spades! I’ve gotten my water usage down between 60-70% without having to sacrifice too many plants. I’ve even figured out a way to maintain a small portion of my lawn with lush and deep green results!  I’ve created a small scale grey-water reclamation system, replaced many plants with native and drought-tolerant species, layered up thick mulches, and have tried creating shadier micro-climate / “cool zones” that also serve to produce food stuffs for my belly!

In other words, I’ve paid my dues more than two-fold of what was asked of me by the state of California.


Featured Image

So why is it that I now have to suffer from increased rates and fees from the water utility company because their profits are being hindered by too much (mandatory) water conservation? Essentially they’re upset because I’m not buying the water that they don’t have to sell me in the first place?!? What fresh hell is this?

Just read for yourself.

It’s truly a “fined if you do, fined if you don’t” scenario and I am left bereft of hydration and money. Pooped and demoralized. Here, on the surface of the sun. As birds burst into flames.

If you’re having trouble seeing my tears it’s because they evaporate instantly.

[*just kidding. I had you there for a minute didn’t I…]


0 Replies to “Broke and Bone Dry: California Water Utility Companies are Essentially Fining Californians for Conserving Water!”

  1. I’m laughing! Many years ago I lived in San Francisco during a drought (early 70’s) people giggled at “shower with a friend”, “put a brick in your toilet.” We were a thrifty lot, and then, yes indeed, they raised the water rates. Kind of hurts one’s pride.

    Here in Oroville, CA we have a water district that also generates power and our rates are very low, last I heard they were in the process of selling 10,000 acre feet to San Joaquin Valley and points south. Now I’m thirsty!

    1. It hasn’t escaped me that we often choose foolish crops to grow here. Like the thirsty almond which only gets shipped overseas anyways! Perhaps it’s all for the best as a wake up call to bad practices, but it still stings a bit.

  2. Though your write-up was witty and interesting as usual, I do feel your frustration, and rightly so, what an up-side-down world we live in today! I found it interesting to read that you have changed some of your garden into draught resistant plants and vegetables.
    I hope that your climate changes for the better, may you have a very wet and cooler season James, and all of you there.

    1. This El Nino is supposed to be an intense one. Which could open up a whole new set of problems. But, more water.

      You’re right, this world’s ridiculousness is only exceeded by my frustration in living in it. Nothing, however, will diminish my sense of humor!

      Im feeling a bit “watch dog-ish” this week. Get ready for a seething post coming up aiming towards Monsanto! I’m polishing that one next! Then, back to gentle and calm Mind Your Dirt regular scheduling…

  3. Birds are bursting in to flames under the magnifying glass of the giant baby up here too. I just got off the phone with a vendor who asked if it has rained since he last saw me months ago. (It’s winter where he lives apparently.) The answer is NO. Folsom Lake is a puddle. Let’s hope for El Niño. Because what the heck will we do if it doesn’t come?

          1. I believe there was a mudslide. I misunderstood the news report and went to Fridays for fancy cocktails instead.

            This is the opposite of Water World. “you want to see wet land? I’ll show you wet land”

          2. Well, as anonymous as a blogger can be. You guys can see just about every aspect of my life on Mind Your Dirt. Except for the weekly pants-off-dance-off events of course.

            That’s on a different website…

          3. I’m pretty sure you are really a Puerto Rican Nun who just takes photos of her moostached neighbor and pretends to be him in her blog. You secret persona is safe with me.

  4. I would share your indignation if it came out that these rate increases were being used to buy gold Apple watches for Siberian Huskies*, but I can’t hate the water districts too much if they have to use these new revenues to cover price increases on the water they purchase and also invest in infrastructure to generate more local sources. The press release from the San Diego water district** seems pretty reasonable to me. Also, have you ever thought about buying gold Apple watches for Sasha? I think she’d look great with four of those bad boys! Or eight! Two on each leg!

    *”Meet the dog who wears gold Apple watches worth more than £26,000″ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/11641715/Meet-the-dog-who-wears-gold-Apple-watches-worth-more-than-26000.html

    **Public Utilities Department Proposing Rate Increases: http://www.sandiego.gov/water/pdf/press/2015/150803.pdf

    1. I do understand this sentiment. And I’m aware that the money is going to infrastructure and that we ALL are paying for this drought in one way or another.

      I’m mostly upset with the system of unsustainable practices by utility companies and agriculture in this state that has compounded this drought to the point that responsible people like me have to foot the bill.

      And yes, I’ll take six of those watches please.

  5. you don’t mean birds really burst in flames, do you? I’ve never heard of anything like it. It must be devastating for a gardener…
    Being European, I strongly oppose water (or any other vital goods) being privatised. I am not saying, governments are the best organizers on the planet, but at least there is still some control of the general public, whereas with commercialsm, there is none. tbw, that’s also the reason, why many Europeans strongly oppose TTIP…

    1. No, not in the literal sense. Hopefully you’ll get used to my creative exaggerations in my writing because it happens quite a bit. I like to toss in a little satire when dealing with frustrating subjects. And a great deal of satire when dealing with non-frustrating subjects.

      Privatized utility companies only benefit the consumer when there’s competition. The needed infrastructure would make that impossible for water if imagine.

      TTIP does indeed sound frightening. You don’t want our bad habits and lax food regulations trickling over the Europe, believe me.

      I’m writing an article about my good friend Monsanto right now and it’s gotten my dander up indefinitely! So many in the US are fat, sick and tumor riddled by current practices.

      In short, run away and run away fast!

    1. Oh, that hasn’t escaped me! The climate these days can be likened to a sci-fi movie and I’m always preparing for the worst. It’s not like the scorched earth in this area is ready to accept huge amounts of rain. We are no moist sponge and I imagine there will be a wee bit of devastation.

  6. Home water use is about 5% of the total state use. Animal agriculture is very wasteful and the use is adjustable as the animals are rarely allowed to live more than two years. It is about the money folks.

Leave a Reply