The funny disease.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Water on the Brain

A visitor to Arizona might believe that there is not a water shortage. It is true, when I turn the handle on the tap that water always comes out of it, and not in that sputtering base-housing-in-the-desert way. Why, I could just turn that little knob and let the water flow out until the bill arrives. Sometimes I feel like doing just that.

Even though it is the desert, the people here go through water like it was water (for lack of a better analogy). I've lived in the Mojave Desert, which seemed to have rules about water usage. When I lived in Illinois they had rules about water usage, and there was no drought there.

You can’t swing a dead armadillo without hitting a lake community in Chandler. There are fountains of lovely toilet-blue water in lavish displays in front of communities and businesses. Fountains are more commonplace as palm trees. And in the summer, all of the hip businesses mist their customers before they enter. Even though it hasn’t rained for 125 days (a record here in the Valley) it’s like I'm living in the middle of the Sodom and Gomorrah of water.

Because people tend to want to stay alive and need water to do so, traditionally, communities are built around a source of water. Phoenix is no exception. Nature provided the area with aquifers. Like every other natural wonder people have come across, aquifers have been exploited until they were pretty much drained of their usefulness, and then have turned around and bitten us on the ass. People have built homes and businesses over the aquifers, which, after they have been drained tend to sink. Large amounts of sinking is typically bad for the foundations of buildings. And no insurance in the world is going to dig a house built over an aquifer out of its sinkhole. You'd be better off with a home that was overrun by deadly mold, because at least then you'd still have land on which to rebuild.

Last year, Le Nature’s opened a water bottling plant in Phoenix. Extensive probing (I e-mailed their Customer Service Department) has revealed that they osmotically filter, pasteurize and bottle municipal water. I know that they are far from being the only purveyors of H2O who use municipal water. In fact, how many crystal clear mountain streams not neighboring a manufacturer of toxic substances could there possibly be? But in a city that strikes deals to buy water from the Colorado River, which is, frankly, far from Lake Michigan water, (regardless of what Chicagoans have done to it) how could it possibly be a sensible place to open a plant that bottles water?

How could a desert city that routinely has to beg and borrow to get water just let a water bottling company waltz in and slap fancy labels on plastic bottles full of our vile tasting water supply? I haven’t seen such local government incompetence and corruption since I left Illinois.

The cherry on the proverbial survival sundae is that, because we’ve had no rain it is so dry that the atmosphere contains, in effect, anti-rain. When we do get precipitation it will be virga. (Not to be confused with the pill that Forthwith T. Nutjob and his buddies keep e-mailing you about.)

Since I am sure my ranting falls on deaf ears, I will just have to do the white man’s equivalent of a rain dance. So this week I’ll be washing my car and planning an outdoor wedding.


Blogger KyuBall said...

Too funny.

When does the sand factory open up?

2/21/2006 10:20 AM

Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

I laughed so hard I wet my pants and they bottled it!

J. Whitney Brown had the best line about Evian water - it was bottled in Fraqnce so it is a good bet no one has ever bathed in it...

2/21/2006 5:52 PM

Blogger Sarah Letnes said...

Kyu- If Arizona could make money exporting sand and incompetence we wouldn't have any property taxes.

Phos- I guess there is a reason for an entire country to forego bathing.

2/22/2006 1:39 PM

Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

I saws a place in Bahrain where they were washing sand to sell and ship out around the world. Best of both worlds, eh?

2/22/2006 4:49 PM


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