The drought in California is forcing residents to prioritize when and how much water they use.
Steve Yuhas lives in a rich area of Rancho Santa Fe. The area is responsible for consuming five times per capita the amount of water that the state-wide average consumes. While he may not represent all the privileged Californians, Yuhas sure has a way of speaking for them. He took to social media to express his disapproval of the water rationing. His argument was that people “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful.”
When questioned later in an interview he added, “we pay significant property taxes based on where we live. And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.” As if, somehow, property taxes make you more or less entitled to water. Despite the few Rancho Santa Fe residents who are speaking out publically in protest, and despite the fact that they were the only region who’s water consumption actually jumped up (by 9%) since the fall, it’s clear that Yuhas attitude isn’t shared by all of his community. Thus far only three citations, from the community of 3, 100 residents, have been issued since water restrictions were announced last fall. President of the Rancho Santa Fe Association says she was shocked by the increase. She acknowledges the communities efforts to cut back and says that the increase must have been an “anomaly”.
As of July first, Rancho Santa Fe will be REQUIRED to start a new rationing cut back system. The goal is to reduce consumption by 36%. Jessica Parks is a spokeswoman for the Santa Fe Irrigation district. Parks said that the rationing isn’t only about which days you can water on…but it’s “now more of a ‘This is the amount of water you get within this billing period. And if you go over that, there will be high penalties.’ ”
So what does “rationing” mean for these Californians? Each home will be allowed a certain amount of water for basic indoor needs (cooking, cleaning, drinking). But non-essential water usage must be cut in half (pools, sprinklers). And car washing and outdoor fountains will be banned for the time being. Using more water than you are allotted means you could see your water bill triple, it could mean the district intervening and installing flow restrictors or it could mean your water being cut off completely.
Rancho Santa Fe isn’t alone in experiencing rationing. All of California’s water districts are cutting back on flow by 8% or more. So while some gated communities are worried about their golf courses, farmers are worried about their crops and livestock.
Holly Manion used to live in Rancho Santa Fe. She is a 62 year old real estate agent and says that she agrees 100% with the water restrictions. While she appreciates the beauty of the community and the gardens that are a staple of the area, she understands that this very real drought requires residents to look at the bigger picture.
Water restrictions aren’t a punishment…they’re an investment in the future well being of your communities.