Jun 19 2014
Water-The Third Rail Part VI
Sam San Diego’s clock radio signaled the beginning of another day. He rolled out of bed taking care not to disturb the person next to him, unplugged his cell phone from the charger….6:00 AM. Without turning on the light, he groped his way into the bathroom, closed the door, flipped on the light and doffed his pajamas. Still thinking about that weird dream he had just before the alarm went off, he opened the shower door and turned the shower valve. No water came out of the shower head.
Now fully awake, he turned the valve to off and opened it again. Still nothing. Standing there in the nude with the shower door open, Sam paused thinking, “must be a bad valve”. No shower this morning. Extra underarm deodorant. He moved to the sink to brush his teeth, turned on the cold water. No water came out of the spout. “Holy crap”, he mumbled to himself, “They must have the water shut off for repairs to the condo main“. He didn’t try to flush the toilet and dressed thinking, “I’ll brush my teeth at the office” and left.
The scene at the office was anything but normal. People on the phone are angrily talking to the City Water Department. It is a city-wide thing. Sam had heard the reservoirs were dangerously low, but had not really given it much thought. Now the public service announcements on several local TV channel are quoting city officials who said the water would be unavailable to parts of the city for most of the week. They are attempting to ration water so everyone could have water service at least one day a week. And water from the Carlsbad desalination plant is limited to supplying essential facilities like hospitals.
Because his place of work is not an essential facility in the Sorrento Valley, none of the bathrooms are operational. To maintain a sanitary workplace, the office administrator attempted to set up porta-potties in the parking lot and a truck carrying cases of water is on the way. The problem is the demand is so high for temporary sanitary facilities, Sam is told to return home until the emergency is over. He gathered up some files, stuffed them into his briefcase and went back to his waterless condo, stopping at the grocery store where lines were forming. The sign said, “Only two bottles per person”.
Is the above scenario possible? Yes it is. When there is no more water, and officials have not done their job to provide a sustainable, reliable water supply, it is too late. People are resourceful and will work to take care of themselves. Trips to water-rich areas will become the norm, and adjustments will be made. No one will likely die of thirst, but normal everyday activities will be disrupted as people do in sub Saharan Africa where they spend a good part of their day just to get water to their homes. Can we avoid this? Yes. It is up to the average citizen to stop politicians politicizing water and demand their leaders recognize the problems and take action. But first Sam San Diego has to take the time to become educated about reliable water supplies and start harassing those who are responsible for water policy and implementation. Then when Sam sleepily turns on the shower valve, water will gush from his showerhead and he can get on with his day.
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