Sorry it has been so sparse around here. I’ve been reading the news, but I’ve not had a ton to say. I’m trying to develop past my few themes of “putting the drought into context”, “Westlands’ political maneuvering”, and “how people rationalize and express their self-interest.” I’m not intentionally trying to move past my theme of mocking economists, but I figure I need to pony up my explicit objections to using economics to understand water before I start making fun of these. Anyway, I’m around, watching and waiting until I have new thoughts.
In the meantime, I like this article for illuminating how a water district and a city planning commission are interacting. The water district is considerably further along in the process of adjusting to water scarcity. They’ve probably gone through an attempt at securing a next supply of water, and realized that finding the next chunk is more daunting than asking people to stop growing lawns (and it comes with its own political challenge of raising rates). Further, they are aware that last year, the California legislature required that cities pass ordinances this year about new landscapes that are at least as stringent as DWR’s Model Ordinance. They’ve had a year to sulk and adjust to it.
The planning commission doesn’t seem to have that same familiarity with the concepts of water scarcity. The two members that serve on the water committee, Taylor and Patin, have adjusted to a world of imminent shortage. But the others adamantly don’t want it to be so. They say that you should be able to plant your lawn if you are willing to pay lots of money for it. But I’d bet the water district knows that it is really difficult to secure a next good chunk of water, even with dollars in hand. I much enjoyed Noyer’s analysis, that:
If conservation is your only method of managing a finite water supply, you’re going to run out, Noyer remarked, adding that he found the covenant requirement [restricting front lawns], “objectionable.”
Actually, Mr. Noyer, you have already run out of water for the foreseeable demands. That’s why the district has become comfortable with conservation, rather than proposing to buy another contract with the State Water Project or drilling another well. I’m not sure why he posits an infinite water supply as the default. His next statement makes it seems as if he thinks he is entitled to an existence without physical limits on resources because of his past military service.
The bottom line for Noyer, “I didn’t serve my country for six years to be told what kind of plant I can have in my yard.”
Presumably he served his country for six years for some purpose that rewarded him at the time of his enrollment, as well as pay during his service. You might think the debt society owes him for his military service was paid at the time. But perhaps his military service has been even more useful to him ever since, since it can be pulled out to inure him from any of the compromises that a complex society facing increasing scarcity must make. It makes me long for past military service, so I could say things like, ‘I didn’t serve my country for six years so a colored light could tell me when to stop and go.” or “I didn’t serve my country for six years so that uniformed goons could force me to partially disrobe every time I fly.” Sadly, I paid my six years to grad school instead of military service, so I am still subject to laws that balance out the mixed interests of society. What was I thinking?