by James Ray Deaton 4/6/15
After 50 years of generally being against new dams and state and federal water projects that would increase supply, 40 years of generally being for massive legal and illegal immigration that has increased demand, diverting tens of billions of gallons of fresh water into the ocean to protect bait fish habitat and several years of severe drought, California’s progressive politicians and bureaucrats have declared an emergency and are using their pens and their phones to fix the state’s water woes.
Finally some Golden State frogs are starting to notice that the hot tub is getting just a little too warm just a little too fast. And why do our betters have to be so snarky about it all?
“We’re in a new era,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in his news conference in the nearly snow-free Sierra Nevada mountains last week. “The idea of your nice little green grass getting water every day, that’s going to be a thing of the past,” Brown said, with the appropriately stern expression of a very serious man doing very serious things.
Less water for private lawns and yards; less water for golf courses and college campuses; less water for cemetery lawns; less water for public and municipal landscaping; less water for bathing and personal hygiene. Less, less, less of everything — except monitoring and enforcement. Somehow I kept expecting Brown to wring his hands, cackle a bit, and mumble something about getting our little dog Toto too.
“This executive order is done under emergency power,” Brown later explained on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday news show. “It has the force of law. Very unusual. It’s requiring action and changes in behavior from the Oregon border all the way to the Mexican border. It affects lawns. It affects people’s — how long they stay in the shower. How businesses use water.”
Well, isn’t that special? Who died and made Jerry Brown King Of All The Waters? I mean really — when did he get a hydro-PhD? Nary a word was said about new dams, less immigration to control population growth (demand) or less fresh water diversion to the ocean. The governmental pronouncements and news stories emphasized “less, less, less” and punitive measures for “water-guzzlers” (as designated by the state).
“The enforcement mechanism is powerful,” Brown said on the “This Week” news show. “We have a state water board that oversees the relationships with the [water] districts. Hundreds of them. If they don’t comply, people can be fined $500 a day,” Brown said. “In a drought of this magnitude, you have to change that behavior and you have to change it substantially.”
Thank God our governor is in charge and up to the task of forcing citizens to comply and substantially change their bad behaviors. Is this of a piece with that whole “hope and change” meme we used to hear so much about? Never ones to let a good crisis go to waste, state bureaucrats are charging up their cell phones and stepping up to the plate as well.
“We hope to see greater enforcement from local agencies,” said Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Control Board, as reported in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Contra Costa Times newspaper. “It’s been disappointing,” Marcus said. “Some areas have stepped up enormously, but others have not. It’s sort of a case of collective denial. Getting people over the hope that rain will save us is a psychological barrier. Change is hard.”
Could she be just a bit more condescending about the state residents she is supposed to be serving?
The Times article quoted water officials and bureaucrats talking about water restrictions, water conservation, “excessive use penalties,” higher water rates, “water cops,” and “watering and non-watering” schedules. All possible because of the newly declared emergency and the governor’s executive authority actions.
It’s said that California is often a trendsetter for the nation. Progressives tend to see this as a positive thing trending toward utopia, while conservatives tend to see it as a warning or cautionary tale trending toward something else. Rule by fiat, via executive authority, seems to be the coming trend. It’s the new normal. It doesn’t have to be a drought — it can be snowstorms, floods, terrorist attacks, threat of terrorist attacks, the “war on drugs,” or an onslaught of illegal aliens at the border. Laws and regulations and penalties and fines and enforcement and newly minted ideas of permissible government intrusion and intervention may soon be coming to a state near you — or to your state.
It’s getting too hot in here for more and more of us frogs.
James Ray Deaton lives more and showers less in Berkeley, Calif.
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