January 15, 2008

Precious Water

photo from the Chandler Park WebsiteWith the brand new running shoes I got for Christmas on my feet, I left the house and headed south on Pepper Street and Hollywood Way four blocks to the Chandler Boulevard Bike & Running Path. When I was a kid, this was an old set of railroad tracks that ran down the center of Chandler Blvd; now it's a popular place for neighbors to enjoy being outdoors. Upon reaching the path, I turned west and ran until I reached North Hollywood. I ran a little farther, then retraced my steps back home.

On Hollywood Way I ran by some apartments. Sprinklers were watering the lawn. And the sidewalk. In fact, the sidewalk was flooded with water from the sprinklers. On Pepper Street, I encountered the same thing, this time in front of a house. There, the water was running down the sidewalk, passing in front of several other houses before finding a driveway which diverted the stream to the street.

Aside from being annoyed that my new shoes were getting wet, I was also concerned that I (or someone else) would slip on the wet pavement. Most troubling of all, however, was the fact that all this water was being wasted. There isn't enough water to go around in California. Green lawns are a luxury in a region that receives only 10 to 20 inches of rain a year on average; last year less than 4 inches fell.

It's been predicted that in the coming decades, battles over water rights will become fierce. In some parts of the world, wars will be fought over water the way wars are fought today over oil. One of the reasons I became a vegetarian one year ago was because it takes a lot less water to produce a plant-based meal than it does to produce a meat-based meal. That's not a choice I expect everyone to make; however, everyone--especially in California--should know better than to waste water.

my photo, taken at Spenceville Wildlife AreaThis afternoon, Ethan's Cub Scout leader called to say that tonight's meeting would take place at the local library, where a speaker was giving a presentation on native plants. She talked about the many wonderful, beautiful plants that are indigenous to California, plants that need little or no water other than that which nature provides. Plants like the toyon, aka California Holly. (The photo here shows one that my family saw on a hike we took before Christmas.) We Californians don't need to have imported, thirsty trees and plants from back east in order to have beautiful gardens. We just need to learn about the land on which we live.

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