It's hard to find much humor in the water situation in the Rim country. Droughts just aren't very funny.
But a recent series on the current drought in The Arizona Republic contained some information so startling that there is little choice but to laugh for fear of crying.
In an article comparing water usage in Phoenix and Tucson, the Republic pointed out that Phoenix had a per capita consumption of 226 gallons a day in 2002 -- 38 percent higher than Tucson. Some Phoenix suburbs (like Paradise Valley, with a daily per capita consumption of 400 gallons) use even more of what the Republic calls "perhaps the single-most crucial element for their survival and growth."
I will admit that I have a real hang-up about wasting water, probably because of that survival thing -- survival being a pretty important part of the formula for living a long life. I also remembered hearing something at a Payson town council meeting about per capita consumption being much lower than 226 gallons up here.
A quick call to town Public Works Director Buzz Walker confirmed that recollection. Payson's water customers use about 100 gallons a day. And Walker said he doesn't see anything humorous in Valley residents' water consumption.
"It's idiotic is what it is," he said, and from his tone of voice he wasn't smiling when he said it.
In fact, the water department is not all that happy about the 100 gallons a day used by its own customers.
"We're trying to find ways to get that down," Walker said. "Anywhere from 89 to 92 gallons is our goal."
The question that comes to mind is how can Valley residents use more than twice as much water as we do? As Walker points out, residents of Payson are living proof you can live quite nicely on 100 gallons a day.
If you've ever tasted Valley water, you know they aren't drinking the stuff. Are they taking hour-long showers? Do they just open the spigots and let it run down the drain? Or is it all those swimming pools and winter lawns and thirsty grapefruit trees, the same fruit they can't even give away?
But then I realized Walker had already given me the answer. Idiotic behavior is practiced by idiots -- defined in my dictionary as "mentally deficient persons having intelligence in the lowest measurable range, being unable to guard against common dangers ..." (under which you could certainly place running out of water).
That would explain everything -- an entire megalopolis full of fools, morons, half-wits, lamebrains and and all-around dumb guys.
But before we reach such a bold conclusion, perhaps we should apply the scientific method, testing our hypothesis by researching whether residents of the Valley exhibit idiotic behavior in ways besides water consumption.
I submit the following as evidence that they most certainly do:
- They have yet to run the Arizona Cardinals -- the worst football team in recorded history -- out of town, instead inflicting untold pain, suffering and humiliation on themselves.
- They drive like idiots.
- They behave like idiots when they camp up here.
- Valinda Jo Elliott, starter of the Chediski Fire, lives in the Valley.
- So does former Gov. Ev Mecham.
- Flatlanders choose to live in hell during the summertime.
On the other end of the spectrum are those of us who live well below the average consumption of about 100 gallons in the Rim country. That would include the long-suffering residents of Pine, who have little choice but to get by with less.
"I would guess that Pine is closer to 70 gallons a day per person," Walker said.
And then there's me. I live alone with three dogs, a horse, and an aquarium full of fish.
Two months ago, my daily consumption hit an all-time low of 66 gallons.
Yes, I have the water bill to prove it.
Yes, I bathe regularly.
Yes, I have plants and trees in my large yard.
But I also have gutters and 500 gallons of storage capacity in barrels strategically placed under them. Combined with gray water from my washing machine, it provides more than enough water for my landscaping.
Does that make me the opposite of an idiot -- a genius, perhaps? Nope (although I did manage to write this entire column on wasting water in the Valley without mentioning golf courses). But I have been called a survivor, and that brings us right back to that survival thing.
Besides, when I told Walker about my 66 gallon month, he told me I get a prize.
I'm hereby notifying town Water Resource Specialist Jeff Durbin -- giver of prizes for water conservation -- that I'll be over soon to collect.
P.S. One of those chartreuse toilets you changed out for a low-flow model is not an acceptable prize.