Friday, June 29, 2012

The Tragedery Of The Semi-Commons

So, as I may have mentioned a few times, Indiana -- Indiana! -- is in a serious drought.

You, about all that's going to do to you is the better brands of canned tomatoes will be more costly and/or harder to find. (Also, corn prices will rise, but it's not like there's very much has corn in it, right? Right? Er... Ooops.)

At Roseholme Cottage, our lawn's gone Marine-service-shirt and it's going to stay that way, dormant 'til it rains; any grass (or weeds, mustn't forget the weeds, which held out green for the longest) that isn't adapted to Indiana's occasional drought will be replaced by breeds that are. We are -- um, Tam is -- watering the useful herbs and vegetables, by hand.

But a lot of the city seems to think a green lawn is essential to gettin' a good seat in the next life, or required by law, or something: they've been watering up a storm, sprinklers waving daily. Water usage is way up...and the two main reservoirs are a foot and a half low.

The water company doesn't like the trend; they've been asking people to knock it off, or at least cut back. Predictably, usage has kept increasing. "I'm already paying for something that falls free from the sky," J. Greenlawn'd Citizen seems to think, "I'll stop watering when I'm good'n ready."

Or maybe when the pumps start sucking mud. But the Water Co. doesn't like reaching that point and operate under internal rules and external regulations that are supposed to keep them from getting there. Citizens Water has already moved from gentle pleading to Stern Warnings, with rumblings of worse to come if we don't take our feet off the throttle. Perhaps unbeknownst to many Indyneapolitans, among the water-utility services for which they are actually paying, along with filtration and purification, fluoridation, pipes and pumping, is a nifty little thing out by the street, a round cover under which is a long pipe down to a security valve. Water is sold with some conditions attached and if push comes to shove, the guy with those fluttering sprinklers will be getting a visit from a water tech wielding a great long security wrench.

Don't like it? You're payin' 'em and they owe you that water? Tsk. Didn't bother to read the tariffs when you signed up, did you? Should'a put in a cistern -- and you'd be right there with the Water Co., checking the level, looking to the skies and shaking your head in concern, realizing The End Is In Sight and cutting back on lawn-watering.


Phssthpok said...

"Should'a put in a cistern -- "

That's assuming of course that they'd LET you. There are places that won't 'allow' you to live in your own damn house if you are not hooked up to municipal water, power, and sewer.

Want solar power? long as you hook your house to the grid (and pay the associated fees).

Want a septic tank instead of sewer? Too bad...the treatment plant is built and we need those hook-up/service fees from the 'customers' to pay for it...if we allowed septic tanks, there wouldn't be enough customer base.

Want to install a well and or cistern? Nuh-uh...that's OUR water, and you need to hook up to the 'service' we provide. And no you can't even gather rain water...that's ours too, and we'll prosecute you for the crime of interfering with it's trip to the aquifer! (see: Washington State.)

Clark county in WA even wanted to go so far as to require private property owners, under penalty of law, to install, at their own expense, water meters on their own, self installed wells, so they could be charged for their water usage. Thankfully it got shot down but the bastards TRIED.

Frank W. James said...

I went through 3 bad droughts as an 'active' farmer and in just about every case they were broken after a hurricane hit the Gulf Coast and then its remains moved north up the Mississippi River valley to the midwest states.

I expect no less to break this thing IF it gets broken.

Otherwise, LOOK OUT if this thing continues another 30 days, it will be the Drought for the Record books and beat anything seen previously in this country and that includes the Droughts experienced during the 1930's.

Personally, I'm begging for a BIG Hurricane up the Gulf Coast because otherwise the economic implications of this thing will prove long lasting and devastating to an already fragile economy...

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Frank W. James said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BobG said...

I blame Bush.

Bubblehead Les. said...

During an Election Year, Water being turned off is as likely as IMPD firing Drunken Cops.

Rob K said...

If you have a very old house in the city, say pre-1910, you may indeed already have a cistern. My place in Lafayette, built circa 1900, had one. Of course it had been mostly filled in with old plaster and trash... My current house out in the middle of nowhere also has one with a pitcher pump in the "laundry" shed behind the house which still works. I rarely use it, but I'm happy to have it.

Fuzzy Curmudgeon said...

I keep thinking about putting in a cistern.

It would probably be empty by now, though, even with the very limited watering I'm doing. But I'd rather not have to put in a new lawn again like we did back in '88.

Tam said...

There's a cistern in the alley behind the neighbor's garage...

acairfearann said...

The old guys knew what they were doing...sometimes. I live with an old house, it has a very good well. It also was built so that the roof run-off (and the basement) drains through the best area for a garden before hitting a grey-water cistern, used of old for washing. Recycling, LID, greywater... Yes, there is some 'inconvenience': drainage channels in the basement, surface drains and field tiles to be maintained. But it is more efficient than the most modern houses.
I wonder what that sprinkler-happy rate-payer would think of his rates if the water company has to replace a pump that did, in fact, suck mud?

Sabra said...

We have traditionally low rainfall here, and laws on the books about watering once the aquifer falls below a certain level. By and large I do not mind it; we have doubled our population and yet our water usage is roughly the same. I think lawn watering is a silly thing to do to begin with.

However, people who water their lawns in defiance of the city ordinances don't bother me near as much as automatic sprinkler systems on commercial property. The laws apply to them too, but it seems clear they are never fined.

The hotel my mother-in-law stayed at on her most recent visit had a "Protect Mother Earth" sign in the bathroom asking you to conserve water by letting them not wash your towels...and at the same time had sprinkler heads aimed at the sidewalks as much as the landscaping, and watered so much that the overflow quite literally flooded things.

Roberta X said...

Cistern, Tam: So I'm told but I have never seen it. If the drought returns, we need to find it.

Roberta X said...

"...Election year...water turned off..."

Don't bet against them doing it. Citizens Water is an arm of Citizens Gas and they've got a locked-in deal; they are a "Public Charitable Trust" and as independent as a hog on ice. If they need to throttle back, they will.

JC said...

Sounds like y'all got a nice fast flooding kinda fing - was it enough to float a canoe? Navigable Waterways Provision might come into effect.
Just sayin.
I am sure that the powder was kept dry.

Anonymous said...

In Denver a few years ago, the Water Board asked people to save water because of a drought. People actually did it. Then the Water Board raised rates because they weren't getting enough revenue.