Showering at the beach in Cardiff, California (photo: Mike Blake, Reuters)
A couple of weeks ago, when California ordered state parks to take heed of the drought and shut off the cold-water showers used by millions of people, beachgoer Stella Nersesya of Glendale told the Torrance Daily Breeze she supported the move because “people can just go home and take a shower.”
Yes, they can and probably will, which is just one of the reasons the conservation move by the state is wrongheaded, according to The Sonoma Independent, an online magazine sponsoring a petition drive to reverse the decision.
“This draconian measure will likely cause 100 million extra gallons of water to be wasted because many of the 15 million annual park visitors who had previously taken short beach showers will now go home to take much longer showers,” petition author Jonathan Greenberg argues. He says the average shower at the beach is an icy quick rinse using 1.2 gallons of water, while the more leisurely warm shower at home consumes 17 gallons.
It is approximately the yearly amount of drinking water consumed by 180 families. It is two months worth of watering at a single golf course (California has 900). It is two months irrigation at an almond farm (California has 6,500). It is one day’s watering along state highways.
So why take the very public action of pissing off a lot of the public for little reward. Greenberg blames the decision on Parks Director Lisa Mangat, a recent appointee with an MBA and no parks experience who previously spent six years at the Department of Finance.
Greenberg also muses about the move being part of a larger plan to reduce expectations that the state will continue to support public services like parks, libraries and hospitals by whittling away at restrooms, drinking fountains and showers.
The two state beaches in Los Angeles County are thwarting the state and not turning off the showers. The county can get away with that because it took jurisdiction of Dockweiler and Will Rogers state beaches in 1975.
County Department of Beaches and Harbors spokeswoman Carol Baker told the Breeze, “Our showers automatically shut off, they have low-flow heads, there’s no hot water, so it’s not inviting to do anything more than rinse off.” Instead, the county is focusing on big water use, like park irrigation systems, she said.