I grew up in LA during its worst drought. Water conservation is something we all just did. There were police making sure we were conserving, so there wasn't much choice, but we made it through.
I live in Berkeley now. It's nice here. Something surprising recently happened, though: we were mandated to lower our water consumption. My landlord stuck a note under my door saying basically "conserve or else." I think I use very little water, but the mandate is for everyone to lower their consumption regardless of how conservative they have been in the past. So, if you were someone who was conserving water before the shortages, you have to lower your consumption as much as everyone else now, effectively being punished for being green when it mattered most, before the crisis was here.
The whole thing is scary. I don't think anyone ever thought that Northern California was going to start running dry. I am worried about the price of water going up, so I am taking drastic measures. I only flush the toilet twice a day now. I live alone, so it isn't as gross as it sounds, and I flush if I have company. I just don't know how I am supposed to reduce my water consumption any more than I already do. I rent an apartment, so I can't put new hardware in the building. My water habits are already so conservative having grown up in a drought.
Barbara Boxer sent me an email a few days ago. It's basically a bunch of links that you probably won't find interesting. They tell us how we can conserve energy as consumers, which apparently means buying new hardware. Buying more crap won't really help, though, will it? If we don't change our lifestyles, all the new gadgets in the world won't help. If Ms. Boxer wants to make a difference, though, perhaps she should tell us what she is personally doing to help solve the problem. Blaming global warming isn't enough. Really, even with global warming, we should be able to come up with ways to recycle or desalinate water while coming up with new ways to conserve. But before we figure all that out, we need to change the way we live. Not one of the sites she sent, for example, says anything about the fact that meat-eaters require 4,000 gallons of water a day; compare that with a vegetarian's 300 gallon-a-day water dependency. Perhaps California senators can live by example. I am going to write her an email right now linking this blog post.
Parthian: California has a lot of cows. If we stopped raising cows for food, we would have a lot more water for people. Vegetable use less water than cows, so we won't starve. If senators started going veg, maybe more Californians would. If Arnold came on TV and said, "we're in a drought. I care about this state, so I am going vegetarian and using less water through this and other sacrifices," that would tell us something, that would get us all on the same page. It makes me a little sick how government officials act like monarchs in this country; they want the masses to do the lifting while they sit on our shoulders.