by Charlene Burgi
There is a line in The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams that has stuck with me over the years: “Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” I can think of several turns in life where those lines sculpted who I am today.
Odd as it might be, one of these specific changes involves water and how it is used. I’ve developed a sensitivity to both water conservation and water waste. It is an awareness that doesn’t go away once you’ve walked through that gate.
A friend and retired employee who I worked with at MMWD recently moved out of state. While gainfully employed at the district, Ken Feil and I worked in different departments with different responsibilities, yet we both kept an eye open for water waste as well as good conservation practices. Although we have retired from our positions, the awareness of water remains.
Not long after Ken and his wife Peg moved, I got a call from them. Their beautiful new home was professionally landscaped; however, their first sight of the irrigation system in action was water spewing in every direction including halfway into the street. One station had four different types of sprinkler heads, which required running the water for hours to keep some of the plants alive. Ken’s conversation with the landscape maintenance company caused further consternation: The company’s response was that the water only cost $75.00 a year and they are sitting on one of the largest underground aquifers in the United States. I am not certain if these folks are still employed at Ken and Peg’s home, but I can bet they are more educated now!
A knock on the door this week found my downtrodden neighbor carrying a letter stating that all irrigation to his planted fields must cease and desist. The water rights from tributaries, streams, and creeks in the area that feed the Sacramento River are to “flow free.” All the crops that feed his livestock will wither in the hot summer sun. All the hours of plowing and planting were for naught. Water in Lassen is plentiful, but unlike Ken and Peg’s landscaper, we know the groundwater can be diminished if we are not aware of surrounding conditions. We can only hope that those on the receiving end of the water we let flow freely will appreciate the sacrifice others made and not waste it.
I found comfort in this thought shortly after our neighbor’s visit. Another call came in from the neighbor living across the street from my mom’s house in Marin. She wanted us to know that a riser popped off the sprinkler system and was gushing over the landscaped area. I really appreciated her observation and taking the time to call so it could be repaired. Her call also let me know that the conservation efforts and education by those at MMWD are working.
While MMWD is dependent on water captured in the beautiful reservoirs on the Mt. Tamalpais Watershed, I recognize there are other water districts throughout the state working hard to raise awareness of conservation and water waste among their customers so they, too, realize that water is a precious commodity. Once that awareness sinks in, it will be like the line in The Velveteen Rabbit—that awareness “lasts for always.”