Water and the Woos of Living through a Drought

California has a water problem; well, according to Adam Nagourney and Jack Healy who wrote “Drought Frames Economic Divide for Californians” in today’s issue of The New York Times, some sections of towns and cities in California have a water problem. The other sections have enough free-flowing H2O to nourish their lush gardens and lawns. The difference, which sections do and do not have water, comes down to money. Here’s a passage from Nagourney and Healy’s article that makes the point: the water line marks economic status in California.

In Compton, where residents often pay their bills in cash or installments, lawns are brown and backyard pools are few or empty. In Cowan Heights, where residents are involved in a rancorous dispute with a water company over rate increases, water is a luxury worth paying for as homeowners shower their lush lawns and top off pools and koi ponds.

“Just because you can afford to use something doesn’t mean you should,” said Aja Brown, the mayor of Compton, as she sat in her second-floor office with windows overlooking the light-rail Blue Line tracks that cut through town. “We’re all in this together. We all have to make sure we consume less.”

Hints of class resentment can be heard on the streets of Compton.

“I have a garden — it’s dying,” said Ms. Barrera, the housekeeper, as she left the water department at Compton City Hall, where she had just paid a $253 two-month water bill. “My grass is drying. I try to save water. In Beverly Hills, they have a big garden and run laundry all the time. It doesn’t matter.”

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