Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Water in the city

Here's a photo from a few months back, driving home from Burbank on a wet, twilight-y Sunday:

I like it for a couple of reasons. First, the motion from the car as we drove through the intersection of this street gives it a lovely little trippin' feel. Secondly, because people tend to associate L.A. with palm trees and clear blue skies - those are the images we are bombarded with from TV shows and films. While it's true that the weather here is fabulous a lot of the time, there are definitely grey, drizzly days to balance it out a little.

Today is one those days, which is why I thought of this photo. I got soaked this morning, after taking the Faery to preschool, and Miss Pie to get her vaccinations. Her stroller has a rain cover, so she stayed toasty dry. Whenever the locals see her in her pram with the cover, they freak out: "Oh wow! Look at her, she's in a plastic bubble... oh my god, can she breathe okay in there?" I often wonder what they'd say if I replied that, no, she can't breathe - because obviously, I would put a non ventilated cover over my child. Mothers on foot with strollers are a rare sight (in my neighbourhood; I'm not speaking for all of L.A.). I guess when it rains, we're even rarer. I get the impression that no one around here has ever seen a rain cover for prams.

Anyhow, as I walked home with my head facing down from the rain, I saw a house with... sprinklers on in the garden. Sprinklers in the rain.

Yeah, only in La La Land, huh?

It's not the first time I've seen this. I realise people have their sprinklers on auto-timers, but you'd think if it'd been raining all night and into the morning, at some point it might occur to the owners that they could switch the system off for a day or two and save some water, right?

This kind of waste is something that never fails to leave me gobsmacked. Growing up in a country where droughts are a fact of life, and most areas have heavy water restrictions enforced, I've been conditioned to shudder and think of the hefty fines I'd face if I dared use a sprinkler in Sydney - let alone when it's raining.

Moving to a city that's been built over a desert, I assumed there would be similar restrictions, but so far I've yet to see a single pamphlet, sign or advertisement that promotes water conservation. I've only learned the official water mandate policies (as they call them here) for where we live by going online and digging a little. The information I found listed the specific restrictions, but no mention of fines if the restrictions are breached.  It makes me wonder if there are actually any consequences of not following the mandate.

La La Land: the city of contradiction. Smoking is banned in every square inch of public space, but hey, let's look the other way when people use more than their fair share of water. Who needs it anyway?


  1. Love this shot. Very cool.

    Yes, water wastage is so drummed into us, isn't it?

    I believe California draws a lot of their water from Mexico. Think I read that once...?

    How is Miss Pie after her shots? Just got Zee's done too!

  2. Had to teach J about water when he came here as he had a tendency to leave the tap running while doing other things. Fortunately, the drought really helped him to get water-wise.

    We grew up in the sticks with a tank and we often ran out of water. It's just been part of my life since I was a kid and I can't imagine not giving a thought as to where the water came from and how much I might be using.

    I know when I first came to Melbourne I used to be shocked at people hosing concrete (you'd get dobbed in in Brisbane for doing that) but things have changed a bit in recent years. Definitely for the better.

    How funny with the stroller cover. It reminds me of people commenting when they used to see Rory in the Hugabub "Can he breathe in there?" Honestly it is such a fucking stupid thing to say. If they can't be constructive I wish they'd just shut up.

    (Sorry, I've got zero tolerance for intefering bystanders today. Just had to try to sit through a haircut while the kids fought between themselves. One of the other salon staff asked me were those my boys and did I know one was picking on the other? I said yes, I did and I have chosen not to get involved in their little spats but give it ten minutes and the situation would be reversed. I'm sure my reply has given her plenty of fodder for her afternoon appointments).

    I hope Pie Lady is doing well this evening. And Zee too, Angie!

  3. Angie - I just had a bit of a read up on it. Apparently a fair bit of the LA water is drawn form the Colorado River, which I did not know. That's pretty cool.

    How is Zee? P totally lost her shit as soon as we went into the nurse's room - her last shots were only a month ago, and the poor mite remembered the room. Got herself REALLY worked up about it. She got over it eventually, and seemed fine at bed time.

    Melbo - where my parents used to live in Sydney, there were a bunch of neighbours who used to tit-for-tat dob one another in for water misdemeanors. So petty, and had nothing to do with a sense of conservation. Just pettiness.

    And yes. Poo to interfering bystanders!

  4. Awesome shot. Also jealous that you live in LA. We just moved to Florida a few months ago for my husband's job. It's sunny here every single day while back home in the NY area it's been raining nonstop. I too wondered about water conservation and until our "welcome kit" (when you forward your mail from one state to another I guess) came in the mail and included water conservation info!

  5. Ally, I can imagine Florida must be quite a change from NY. My two strongest associations with Florida are from TV shows, of course. The first is Dexter, and the second is Seinfeld (in the context of retirement). I hope you're enjoying all that sunshine!