Perhaps you read the editorial opinion published in the RGJ May 27, 2014 by the GM of the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA – pronounced TUM-WA – now doesn’t that sound nice?). Therein the GM declared that the severe and continuing drought was absolutely no reason to conserve water here in the good ol’ Truckee Meadows anytime soon. Astonishing though it is, that is what he said.
Cleverly entitled “Utility set to meet water needs”, he begins by saying that “everyone is talking about the drought.” But then he asks “Why not ask for more conservation now?” Then tells us that “TMWA is prepared to meet the water needs of our customers”, that is, without conservation until the river becomes stressed and flow drops below “mandated” levels. So when should you conserve? Not now for heaven’s sake! In other words, use as much water as you want and we’ll let you know when to conserve – wink, wink. Implied, but not said is, “please don’t conserve water and keep our revenues up.” Conservation be damned!
The GM softens his conservation-can-wait message with a paragraph about we’ve-been-through-these-challenges-before and drought-is-a-natural-occurence and as-a-desert-based-utility-TMWA-plans-for-dry-years.
The essence of the message the GM is conveying? Use as much water as you need and if you feel like it pray for snow next year.
The GM will use “upstream drought reserves” and “groundwater” to meet your needs later – even if you would be more than happy to conserve (and save a little money) right now.
Of course, Reno averages only 7″ of precipitation a year making us one of the driest places on the planet. Never mind that this year we’re under 5″ and the Sierra runoff will be 25% of average in many locales. Nevertheless, the GM doesn’t think that a 14 year dry spell is any reason to call for conservation of water anytime soon. Use what you need to. Never mind that this drought represents one of the worst dry spells for perhaps half a millennia. After all TMWA is prepared for your business.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the GM were more practical? more thoughtful? more likely to err on the side of caution? more like a leader who needs to be honest with 300,000 people who already know that there is a serious drought and are prepared to respond? Who prefer to see water in the river rather than evaporating on their sidewalk?
Conservation has to be taught every day of the year to remind all of us that every drop of water we use takes that drop of water from our lakes, river, streams, wetlands, and springs and the wildlife that depends on them. Conservation should be the main thing that TMWA talks about – as a “desert based utility”. Conservation is more than reporting “water waste”. It is the way westerners and the environment we all depend on can survive in a changing climate; a climate that is getting both hotter and drier.
Perhaps the GM could lead and call for conservation every day of the year for the simple reason that we live in a desert.