Ready for tougher water-saving measures

It’s been reported that Amarillo residents haven’t yet subscribed to the water-conservation memo that’s been circulated.

We’re using water as if there’s no tomorrow. Oh yes, we’re in the middle of a drought that’s about four years old now and there’s no apparent relief in our immediate future.

What to do? Keep those “voluntary” restrictions in place? I’m beginning to think we need to get some orders from City Hall: Use less water or else.

I know that utility experts at City Hall are acutely aware of what’s happening around here. City Manager Jarret Atkinson happens to be a water expert in his own right. Still, the city keeps sending mixed messages. It says we should conserve water and then it says the city is in good shape, that it has enough water to last for, oh, about another 200 years. I sense that many of us are hearing the second part of that message more clearly than the first part.

The city has set monthly maximum water-use goals. Residents are exceeding those goals every month. Let’s remember, too, that summer isn’t even here yet.

The city has drafted a Stage 1 water emergency plan that calls for voluntary measures, such as watering lawns on certain days depending on whether you live at an odd- or even-number address; what’s more, you shouldn’t water your lawn more than three days a week.

That’s all fine. What happens, though, when you don’t comply? Nothing.

What should happen? Some fines might be get folks to stop using water. A more enforceable method might be to boost water rates, which is another way of hitting folks in the wallet.

It absolutely goes without saying that water is — hands down — the most precious resource we have. We cannot live without it. Nor can we continue to keep using it at the current pace.

If we cannot — or will not — comply with voluntary measures, it’s time for our local government to take the next step by ordering us to use less water.

The rain likely will return. No one on Earth can predict when that will happen. It might happen soon, maybe later, maybe sometime in our lifetime. Then again, maybe not until a lot longer after that.

What in the world are going to do until — or if — that day arrives?

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