IT’S nothing unusual for an Australian. Water your lawn in the allocated hours only, and never waste water hosing down your driveway.
But for the wealthy residents of Rancho Santa Fe in San Diego, the concept that rich people have to restrict their water consumption is truly shocking.
The region is suffering through a severe drought, and water restrictions are placing a strain on the luscious gardens and pools within the gated community — the 14th most expensive postcode in the United States.
When California Governor Jerry Brown asked residents to reduce water by 25 per cent in April, residents of Rancho Santa Fe assumed this didn’t apply to them, and actually increased their consumption by nine per cent.
But with the drought deepening, the government is cracking down further, and from July 1, for the first time ever, Rancho Santa Fe will be subject to strict water rationing.
Resident Steve Yuhas is furious. He told the Washington Post people “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologise for wanting their gardens to be beautiful.
“We pay significant property taxes based on where we live. And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”
Yes. Seriously. He just said that. But wait, it gets worse.
“I’m a conservative, so this is strange, but I defend Barbra Streisand’s right to have a green lawn,” he said.
“When we bought, we didn’t plan on getting a place that looks like we’re living in an African savanna.”
In fairness, Yuhas has since claimed his comments were taken out of context, and he has campaigned for the wealthy to pay more for water under the strict new rules, which will see every household allotted with a water budget for basic needs.
But for the wealthy, what’s a few hundred thousand when it comes to water? As the Post points out, this neighbourhood drips money.
That’s where flow restrictors come in.
If residents refuse to cut the flow, the council has the power to install flow restrictors, and in severe cases, shut off the tap altogether.
“I think we’re being overly penalised, and we’re certainly being overly scrutinised by the world,” resident Gay Butler told the Post.
“What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?”
It’s a bizarre theory, considering the land is only going to get drier as the summer heats up.
Australians are used to these sorts of strict measures. For years we knew we could only turn on the backyard tap on certain days, and it took years for the restrictions to lift.
As lakes dry up, animal populations plummet and farmers lose livestock, there’s much more at stake than a couple of brown lawns for these residents.
Being rich is one thing, but being educated can mean the difference between a brighter future, and a drier one.