Water Woes Compounded By Wasting

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The West is all about water.

Always has been.

Probably always will be -- until there isn't any more.

If you think that notion is far-fetched and alarmist, get a copy of the July issue of "National Geographic." Amid the articles on lethal jellyfish in Australia and the dogged determination of the Mars Rovers, you'll find one headlined, "Nary a Drop to Spare: Drought grips the West."

"Five years into a severe drought, there's not enough water to meet the diverse needs in the western United States," Chris Carroll writes.

But you thought that maybe the drought was over after a record wet winter, and you could relax a little and splurge on that garden.

Carroll explains what Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center, has to say on the subject:

"Although a wet fall and spring rains have brought some relief to sections of the Southwest, the drought is far from over."

And yet the signs that people believe otherwise are everywhere. A holiday shopping junket to the Valley produced this scene: It's 3 in the afternoon on a 112-degree day, and a Hilton hotel in Mesa is blasting a tiny patch of grass with three sprinklers. Overspray is everywhere, and water is gushing down the street.

Right here in Payson, the next door neighbor of a prominent resident said she sneaked over to his property and turned off the sprinkler after he'd gone away and left the water running for three hours "on some sort of shrub."

Our own town of Payson, a national leader in conservation measures, relaxes restrictions from stage 3 to stage 2 -- a move that makes little sense in view of this from its own 2005 water status report:

Meanwhile in surrounding communities, like Whispering Pines and Mesa del Caballo, Brooke Utilities notified its customers that they've implemented a curtailment plan that could lead to a reconnection fee of $2,400 for a third violation of stage 5 restrictions.

But as Payson sits under stage 2 water restrictions, which prevent excessive water usage, most communities served by Brooke Utilities remain at stage 1.

And two months since the new tariff took effect, the small black-and-white signs in at least one of the communities Brooke Utilities serves have yet to be replaced by the larger color-coded signs the company is required to post alerting the public to its conservation stage.

The point is, we can all do a better job of saving water -- if we don't our children could one day face the consequences of our flippant attitude toward this most scarce of natural resources.

Walt Kelly, creator of "Pogo," had this to say in "The Best of Pogo:"

"Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend.o, too, do those characteristics which are ugly."

Believing, as he did, that "we are all responsible for our myriad pollutions, public, private and political," Kelly reduced the message in several cartoons to nine words:

"We have met the enemy and he is us."

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