By Beverli Jinn
There’s a chance that you voted in the recent election. Lots of people did. Democrat, Republican, Independent . . . I’ve chosen to register as a “Decline-To-State.” It’s kind of a negative, uncooperative title, I suppose, but that’s what they call people like me in California. Actually, I kind of like it. For me it indicates that I take the voting process seriously. Whatever we call ourselves, the process was all over and the ballots counted soon enough (except in Florida).
Oh, sure, we complain about election results once in a while, but mostly we vote and move on. We have personal obligations to take care of. This time around, there wasn’t much point in having an opinion about the threat of war in Gaza or the lack of discretion of a leader such as General Petraeus. We don’t get to vote on such issues, and it’s probably just as well that we do not. Did we really understand the ramifications of the various propositions? Of course not. Still, the state sends us a 40-page “Official Voter Information Guide.” Most of us, I fear, toss this guide and rely on television ads paid for by special interests. Yeah. That’ll work.
In Dana Point, day in and day out, hired officials take care of ongoing city business, boring stuff like tree trimming and street repairs and traffic flow. We don’t need to elect people to manage such tasks. Take a look at the city’s website. There is no shortage of government responsibilities or of people to assume those responsibilities. Our City Council is a different matter. We elect those council persons. We count on them to make decisions for us.
But what about water? What about making certain that, when citizens turn on a faucet, drinkable water flows out? Who does that anyway?
Results of our recent election tell us that we elected three new directors to the South Coast Water District, a local government agency. Two of these directors, Dick Dietmeier and Wayne Rayfield, have served on previous boards. The third, Rick Erkeneff, will be serving for the first time. He brings with him a dedication to “conservation and protection of our resources.” Presumably, the other two directors, Richard Runge and Robert Moore, share that same concern. It’s hard to imagine that they would not.
The ballot instructed voters to vote for three out of the six who were seeking the position. Unofficial results showed that 8,596 people voted (each three times). Dietmeier garnered 4,916, the most, while the sixth-place candidate received 3,748. Pretty close.
So now what? Is the problem solved? Do our new directors have answers that previous board members did not have? Of course not. Erkeneff is the only board member who has not been on previous boards. We can hardly expect his dedication to magically keep our faucets flowing. This is not a replay of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. We can’t hope that brooms with buckets will get the job done.
If it’s not the city and it’s not the SCWD directors who must provide us with the water we need, then who?
You and I, and the rest of the 35,000 or so people who live in Dana Point, that’s who.
What’s more beautiful than a healthy green lawn? Unfortunately, it’s also a ground cover that requires a large amount of water. Fifty-eight percent of our drinking water is used for landscaping. Can you believe it? We must eliminate thirsty flora and replace it with California native plants.
A sprinkler system is a convenient way to distribute water to our lawns and gardens, but sprinklers also spray water onto sidewalks and streets. A lot of this water carries pesticides and other pollutants through storm drains to our fragile ocean.
How strange. Even though we have an ocean of water at our doorstep, we depend upon water from the Colorado River and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to meet our water needs. This is where the South Coast Water District comes in. It’s the directors’ job to make water available: ground water, recycled water, desalinated water. It’s our responsibility, yours and mine, to consume as little water as possible.
If you voted, that was a good start. Now, let’s get serious about conservation.