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5 sticky drought-related questions Gov. Brown didn't answer

You probably heard or read Friday that Gov. Jerry Brown has declared a drought emergency for our too-Golden State.

And he sounded like he means it, pointing to charts and graphs and the like and saying, “We ought to be ready for a long, continued, persistent effort to restrain our water use” and urging “all citizens [to cut back] at least 20% of their water use.”

OK. I get it. It hasn’t rained in L.A. since, uh, well, let’s see, there was that sprinkle in November, or was it October? And it apparently hasn’t snowed much either, although my kid has a bum knee so we can’t go skiing and I’ll just have to take their word for it.

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Still, I know many anxious Angelenos have drought-related questions. So let me try to answer some of the most common ones:

Q: Does the drought mean there’s a shortage of Perrier/Evian/other bottled water?

A: No. The water shortage Brown talked about involves the stuff you don’t drink; the stuff that comes out of the tap or your sprinklers or the hose your gardener uses. Bottled water — which comes from secret, magical places that never dry up; why else would it cost so much? — will remain plentiful, so do not panic and send the maid to Costco to stock up.

Q: Gov. Brown wants us all to cut water use by 20%. I flunked math. What do I do?

A: Excellent question. Sadly, I flunked math too. Plus, like you, I really have no idea how much water I use right now, so how can I possibly know how much less I should use to cut 20%?

So, unless you want to hire someone to help you figure this out (surely there are such people; water wizards?), here are a few common-sense tips: If your sprinklers go on every day now, have the gardener reset them to three days a week (trust me, he knows how, even though you couldn’t find the timer box with GPS). If you now take 30-minute showers with your girlfriend/boyfriend/whatever, take 10-minute showers instead (you’ll be just as clean but, yes, sadly, you won’t have quite as much fun). If you have a swimming pool/spa, put up a sign next to it that says “Water Storage System.” You’re not saving water but hey, like Al Gore, you’re talking the talk.

Q: What about washing my car? The Beemer just doesn’t look right dirty.

A: Don’t be silly: Of course go to the car wash. Most of them are water-efficient anyway. However, for the two or three old people out there who still wash their cars themselves: Just stop it! It is wasteful, plus you’re just embarrassing yourself and your kids/grandkids anyway.

Q: My yard looks like Busch Gardens. I’ve heard of xeriscaping. Is that like Xeroxing, and would that help?

A: Another good question (no, not the Xeroxing part; that’s just dumb, though I have always wondered who coined those names). Xeriscaping could really reduce your water use because it would replace things like grass (which comes originally from Britain, a rainy place, and thus has no reason to be growing in Southern California, a non-rainy place) with stuff that actually grows here without using a lot of water. Also, it would allow you to spend lots of money now on landscape architects/contractors/laborers, meaning you’re helping the economy and helping with the drought. Plus, if you’re lucky, they’ll recognize you at the country club for your efforts, and you’ll get a nice plaque — given to you while you gaze out across acres of grass grown with the help of thousands of gallons of water.

Q: I’m tired of the drought. I like wasting water. What can I do?

A: Really? Tired already? What are you, ADD? I mean, it practically just started.

But, OK, that’s an easy one: Move. (You know, like the Anasazi did. Oh, just Google it.) But not to Texas (there’s no water there either). Ditto Phoenix, and Vegas. Try Kauai. Rains a lot there. Or Vancouver, Wash. I heard recently that, thanks to climate change, Vancouver will be Los Angeles in 100 years. Plus marijuana is legal in Washington state. So even if drought reaches there, you won’t care.

Well, I’m out of time. Sorry if I didn’t get to your question. Maybe we can make this a regular Friday thing.

Meanwhile, as the guy in the ad says, “Stay thirsty, my friends.”


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