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Unclassified Info: Water politics gets personal

July 12, 2012|By Gary Huerta

A funny thing happened to me the other day as I was driving down one of the streets in my neighborhood. I spied a neighbor hosing down her gutter and thought I'd provide some commentary regarding her activity.

I figured it was my duty, and might even be my right, for a number of reasons.

First, I have chided Rick Caruso and the Americana at Brand in print for the practice of hosing down sidewalks during a time when our state is suffering from a water shortage. It seemed hypocritical to pick on a successful real estate developer and his corporate interests and refrain from exhibiting the same disdain for a neighbor — even if she was a senior.

Second, I had my daughter in the car and wanted her to see that I am at least consistent in my criticism of people who waste water. If the gutter had contained some sort of biological hazard, I would have refrained from making any verbal judgment.

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As it was, the woman was merely looking to wash a few leaves to the front of the house next door — another pet peeve. Gardeners also do this with their blowers, and I assume the same leaves have been transferred back and forth for weeks on end when the problem could just as easily be remedied with a broom, dust pan and trash can.

Third, with water and electricity rates on the rise, I thought I might just be doing this woman a small favor by enlightening her as to the negative effects that hosing down her gutter could have on her own finances.

It could be her practice was nothing more than a habit of convenience, and all she needed was to hear a friendly voice remind her that we should all be conserving resources together, and that doing so could save her a few coins.

“There's a water shortage, and you might want to think about sweeping your gutter,” I said in a tone that was factual and polite, if my recollection serves me.

The woman turned her attention from the hose to my car with a sour look and said nothing. I figured she was in no mood to hear anything from the likes of me, so I drove off.

And that's when the funny thing happened.

“Hey Dad, that woman just tried to squirt our car,” my daughter informed me.

Sure enough. As I glanced in the rear-view mirror, I could see the woman had found an alternate use for her garden hose. It was now a tool to provide her rebuttal.

I don't know whether I was asking for it. I didn't think stating a fact about our finite supply of water could draw such equal disdain on the part of my neighbor. But it did.

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