Stop The Faucet? “Uh, Tell That To God.”

Water conservation has intrigued me for a while. It all began when I asked a colleague why she chose to become a vegetarian. Now I have numbers of friends who are vegetarians, one who even thrived as he went through boot camp. I respect them and have eaten with them countless times. I was simply curious about this colleague’s rational.

“Well,” she said, “What would [this state] look like if we used all the water used to produce beef to water the landscape. It would be so much greener.”

What?!?! How the heck would that work? How would you transport the water? How effective would a state-wide watering campaign be? How would you ensure that no more than 50 percent of the water evaporated before it soaked into the ground? (The best way is to mimic western Washington state’s system; 200+ days a year of rain.)

Further, I thought, trying to comprehend the silliness, “Isn’t water kind of like a renewable resource? There’s no more and no less of it on the earth. It’s just in a different form or location.”

And she seriously defended her reasoning.

That reminded me, what are the values of watering bans? In Texas, where it rains less than 100 days a year and there are few resources in which to store water, controls may be necessary. Even in California, limits may be necessary when the snow pack is low or in Southern California, which gets its water from the Colorado River.

But are they necessary in Washington state and Oregon where it rains more than the sun shines. When utility districts in these states encourage water conservation despite the surplus, the only response can be, “Uh, tell that to God.”

All that to say, this forum sounds interesting.



BOSTONEven though the Commonwealth is blessed with adequate rainfall and full reservoirs, many towns* greet summer with watering bans and other draconian conservation tactics that seem better suited to the desert Southwest. Why? Economists Sheila Olmstead and Robert Stavins, in their new Pioneer Institute study Managing Water Demand, argue that heavy-handed, punitive restrictions on water use are not only expensive, but often ineffective.

2 thoughts on “Stop The Faucet? “Uh, Tell That To God.””

  1. Hi t,

    We have several vegetarian friends who attend our parties. Thus, in an attempt to be a good host, I’ve developed several suitable recipes over the years that cater to their dietary requirements, yet still have enough taste to be worth eating. This experience has taught me that, while one could exist with this limitation, it would cost at least twice as much on the food budget to make it palatable. It’s also important to note that, in order to accomplish this culinary feat, it would be necessary to utilize massive amounts of hot house agriculture and/or large quantities of frozen vegetables to make up for the lack of variety during the cold months. The result, I suspect, would be more of a strain on our resources, and the environment, than our current meat eating ways.

    the Grit

  2. Good point Grit. The other option would be to increase the federal deficit by importing massive amounts of food from Peru and Chili.

    But I am sure those arguing for “energy independence” will jump on the bandwagon for “food independence”?

    (The above does not imply support or opposition to energy independence in any form. I just don’t have enough time to think about that at the moment.)

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