For some time now, just about everybody who has any influence at all in these parts has been trying to get Brooke Utilities to get its customers to exercise a little restraint.
Except in Pine, the California-based water company, which operates under several aliases in the Rim country (including Pine Water Company, Strawberry Water Company and Payson Water Company), makes only a minimal effort to encourage conservation among its customers. This at a time when the Rim country is in the grips of a vicious drought, causing the Town of Payson Water Department (not to be confused with Payson Water Company) to institute harsh conservation restrictions that include a ban on wading pools, real grass and garden hose-variety car washing.
Meanwhile out in the boonies (Brooke serves such communities as Deer Creek, East Verde Park, Flowing Springs, Geronimo Estates, Mesa del Caballo, Pine, Star Valley, Strawberry, Tonto Basin and Whispering Pines) the green light is lit and the water is flowing.
Both Gila County and the Arizona Corporation Commission have made serious attempts to stop this runaway ship before it runs aground, passing resolutions and writing letters asking Brooke to please do its part as a corporate citizen and at least pay lip service to conservation.
You would think that reason would prevail -- even greed-based reason. After all, when the Rim country runs out of water and everybody moves away, what will Brooke sell and to whom?
While the company finally agreed to look into curtailment tariffs for the communities it serves, it doesn't plan to even start the process until after the peak summer season is over. And even if these tariffs come to pass one day, they don't begin to address the bigger educational issue -- people need to understand the critical importance of water conservation.
That's why I have decided to take measures into my own hands and unleash the ultimate weapon at my disposal. I refer, of course to the power of the press.
[Loud clap of thunder. Ground shakes mightily.]
That's right, ladies and gentlemen, in the grand tradition of Larry Flynt, Jayson Blair and Clark Kent, I am rolling out the heavy artillery. And since Brooke Utilities won't get serious about water conservation, I would like to start my assault with some conservation guidelines of my own for the good people who live in the Rim country's outlying communities:
• Never leave Payson for home without going to the bathroom.
At the gas station, restaurant or Wal-Mart -- anywhere within town limits. Even if you don't have to. With all those low-flow toilets and waterless urinals hard at work in Payson, it's sure to save the Rim country a whole bunch of water over the long haul.
• Drink more beer.
Or any other liquid that isn't made with Rim country water.
• Do not bathe.
If we all observe this very effective conservation measure, no one will be the wiser.
• Organize small vigilante groups and go after water guzzlers.
Hey, ruthless times call for ruthless remedies.
- Hang pictures of Payson Public Works Director Buzz Walker labeled "Our Hero" around your community so Brooke officials understand that water conservation is a good thing, not a bad thing.
Finally, since the ACC is apparently unable to make Brooke Utilities impose curtailment tariffs, maybe it could at least force the company to change its name to better match its personality or perhaps its ultimate fate. After all, Brooke suggests an idyllic scene filled with water, and we all know that ain't the Rim country.
Here are a few suggestions:
• Brookeless Utilities
(This one was so obvious, I just had to start with it.)
• Dry Hole Utilities
(It's what happens when the well runs dry.)
• Shortsighted Utilities
(Can't you see a logo featuring a cow skull.)
• Head-in-Sand Utilities
- Get a Clue Utilities
- Shot in Foot Utilities
- Bunhead Utilities
(You gotta wonder if Brooke was the water company of these ancients back in another drought when a lack of water caused them to close up shop as a people.)
• Dehydrated Utilities
- Custer's Last Stand Utilities
(You know the story of the famous ambush. Has a historic feel, don't you think?)
In closing, remember, dear readers, that even Salt River Project, the folks that created the water shortage in the Rim country in the first place, realizes the value of public relations. Just watch their spots on the Valley TV channels telling everybody what wonderful stewards of our natural resources they are.
Even if Brooke wants to sell more water and damn the consequences, it is just good PR to at least pretend to care about the well-being of the people who send you checks each month.