The daily watering of Augusta Street

Local news outlets reported Tuesday that the City of Fresno would be implementing “Stage 2” water restrictions beginning Aug. 1, in response to our state’s historic drought. That means that not only will the city be limiting residents to outdoor watering only two days per week, but that the city would also be stepping up its monitoring and fines for violators.

The move to fewer watering days seems long overdue to me. But I have mixed feelings about the move to more monitoring and fines when the City of Fresno itself continues its wasteful watering all over town. Case in point: the daily watering of my block of Augusta Street, next to the thick, green grass surrounding the baseball diamonds at Cary Park behind Fashion Fair Mall.

I’ve been taking my morning walk at 5 a.m. every weekday this summer, and the city has faithfully been watering both the park and a big stretch of Augusta Street every weekday as well. Let’s ignore for a moment that the current water restrictions on residents limits them to three days per week and that the city breaks its own rules by watering every weekday from 5:15 until 6 a.m. Let’s focus instead on the persistent lack of lawn trimming around the sprinkler heads, to prevent puddling. Let’s focus on the misdirected streams of water that spray halfway into the street each and every day and that blanket the full street from curb to curb with sprays on days like today when there’s just a bit of a breeze. And let’s focus on the multiple pools of standing water throughout the park caused by daily overwatering, creating ideal conditions for Little Leaguers and walkers to sink into the mud, twist their ankles, and fear mosquitos. (Hello, paging vector control!)

Although “drought shaming” seems to be growing in popularity in California — TV stations all over the state and even The New York Times have widely reported on the trend — I’m not at all interested in spying on my neighbors. One of my neighbors, in fact, saw me making photos of the city’s wasteful watering this morning and felt the urge, without prompting, to defend his own watering habits for his putting-green perfect lawn. His water guilt is his own. But what I am most interested in is some basic accountability from our fair city.

Mayor Swearengin, City Manager Rudd, and all the parks employees out there: When are you going to follow your own rules? Please stop watering Augusta Street every day, and please stop overwatering Cary Park.

UPDATE: The city tweeted at me the following reply this morning, a couple hours after my post went up. Let’s hope their parks people follow up as quickly as their social media people do!
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