Campaigns further fund dry spell

by Emmilly Nguyen, Senior Staff Columnist

The California drought has become a growing problem. In response to a drought that seems to have no end in sight, the state is set to reduce urban consumption by 25 percent. However, water may not be the only precious resource Californians are wasting.

San Diego water usage was restricted on Nov. 1, 2014. Mandatory water-use restrictions limit watering lawns to three times a week, while car washes and irrigation are limited to certain time frames.

San Diego is expected to reduce water usage by 20 percent, a mandate that is less restrictive than the 35 percent demanded from cities like Beverly Hills.

Efforts to alleviate the drought, made both by San Diego and the state, are good but those efforts are expensive. While saving every last drop of water, California is spending every last penny it has in it’s already defunct budget.

In an effort to combat the drought, using tax-payer dollars to fund water projects is much better than spending it on public relations campaigns.

Matter Potter said in the San Diego Reader that the larger beneficiaries of this drought are the PR companies that profit from drought awareness.

“If anyone ends up happy about California’s drought, it may be the recipient of a new $1.6 million PR contract from the City of San Diego,” he said to the San Diego Reader.

Apparently San Diego’s “Waste no Water. All Ways. Always.” campaign isn’t effective, as the state continuously doles out  tax-payer money to pay for these exorbitant campaigns. The PR consultants plant to work with the City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, a five-year Water Conservation Program starting in 2015.

Water is a vital resource, but the price tag doesn’t belong on campaigning material. This isn’t the Primaries — people have to be living under a rock to not be aware of the problems surrounding the drought.

According to the U-T, San Diego was the first city to take action after Gov. Jerry Brown announced the 25 percent reduction mandate in water consumption. These efforts are great, but Mayor Falconer plans for a $450,000 turf replacement rebate program that will eliminate watering to city medians, parks and golf courses.

According to reporter David Garrick, “Residents will get $1.50 per square foot they replace, which they could combine with a $2-per-square-foot state program to receive a total of $3.50 per square foot.”

The city threatened fines of $100, $250 or $500, but has not found anyone yet.  If San Diego bettered their enforcement of conservation mandates or fined more people, maybe that money could be put towards rebates rather than using tax payer dollars.

According to Time magazine, the California Energy Commission mandated that all toilets, urinals and faucets sold in California, regardless of where they are made, as of Jan. 1, 2016, must conserve water. However, water-efficient switching to water conserving appliances can be costly and replacing lawns with drought-resistant plants can also have additional costs.

Needless to say, so much of the efforts made thus far in combating the drought have cost a great deal of money with very little return. Just like water, money doesn’t come from thin air — nor does it grow on the trees residents are limited on watering.

The city can look at San Diego State as a model in targeting the problem. Instead of spending thousands of dollars raising awareness the money was put towards change.

SDSU has taken important strides towards water conservation by planting drought-tolerant plants, turning off fountains, and watering lawns during mandated times. Furthermore, to highlight conservation efforts, the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union has two 50,000 gallon tanks, designated to collect rainwater for reuse.

People know about the drought — now is the time to channel these funds in a more beneficial way.