Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Where's My Water?

This small trickle of water is a good sign in Jerome, Arizona. It signifies that the water storage tanks in this small town (pop. 350) are full and what you are seeing is the overflow as it trickles down Mingus Mountain on it's way to the Verde River.

The good news is that water has finally become an issue in Arizona...the bad news is that people are still playing games and show no inclination to stop.

The town of Prescott i
s struggling with how much water it will take from the Big Chino aquifer...the city of Phoenix is haggling with its internal political interests about water usage and where the whole issue is going.

Into this confused controversy steps a well meaning reporter, Phil Wright of the Verde Independent and its on-line iteration, the, an impetuous Jerome Town Clerk/acting Town Manager, Terez Storm, and the possibility that a water shortage could exist some day in Jerome.

Alarmed at this prospect, Ms. Storm (acting alone as far as anyone knows) declared a water emergency and left town for a month's vacation. Reacting to pressure from the Town's administrators, the verdenews,com "disappeared" the piece from its article list (but not its archives). And Ms. Storm? She has been replaced as acting Town Manager and Town Clerk.

But...we digress...the point is water...isn't it?

While this small trickle of water is reassuring to the present population, it represents the excess between what is used now by 350 people and what once served a population 40-times as large...15,000 mine workers, mine executives, merchants, bar owners and prostitutes.

If you ask a couple of old-timers around here about the difference between now and the olden days, their thoughts are about the same.
"Well," they say, "people lived differently."
"People didn't have flush toilets then and they took baths maybe once a week out of a bucket..."
"Y'have to remember," they'll say, "we used to get a big snow pack on Mingus Mountain and now it's nowhere near the size."

No wonder the bars flourished...keg beer or was probably cleaner than the water.

It's kinda alarming, however, that 350 people are using water at substantially the same rate as 15,000 people did 60 - 90 years ago.

For comfort my thoughts keep returning to Terez Storm who issued an "unauthorized" alarm, my neighbors who grow gardens of non-native desert species and water lawns for 6 - 8 hrs a night, another neighbor who has a 700-plant vineyard, and a city administration that just doesn't get it.

When they turn the tap and the faucet is dry, the causes of global warming will pale in the light of returning to sponge baths from buckets. An old adage states that all politics is local...all I'd add is that a lot depends on how hot and dry it gets.

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