Where’s the Water?

2015-0711 Drought

Perhaps you have not heard . . . the California governor declared parts of California are subject to water rationing due to the persistent drought. I am sure many people who read my posts are curious why a post about the California water shortage belongs on a blog about overcoming adversity. Believe it or not, thinking about the drought caused me to think about the benefits of being a little different (what we sometimes call our “new normal”) and why those of us who survived a life-threatening medical adversity (brain injury, stroke, seizure, cancer, ataxia, etc.) are essential to the solution of many problems in the world.

Although California is next to the Pacific Ocean, Californians depend on getting their water from other sources. I understand the ocean is filled with salt and too much salt will kill plants, animals, and people. I also understand operating a desalinization plant is very expensive. What I don’t understand is why people who have not experienced a life-threatening medical adversity cannot solve the water shortage. There is no shortage of highly skilled project managers, leaders, scientists, engineers, inventors, manufacturers, investors, or lenders here, yet nobody has solved this problem. My belief is there are simply not enough of the right people trying to solve the problem.

In an article I read recently, I learned California’s largest water supplier is no longer offering rebates for customers who replace their lawns with drought-resistant plants. According to an article written by Aaron Orlowski for The Orange County Register, the “budget for water conservation programs, including turf rebates, started last year at $40 million. In December, officials increased it to $100 million. In May, they ramped it up again to $450 million.” Rather than spending money on a conservation program, we should be spending money on creating and implementing a viable solution.

Why do we value lawns? Why do we need a rebate program to encourage us to do the right thing? Credible people predicted the water shortage decades ago, why did we wait until now to search for a solution? Why is our action and our inaction based on self interest rather than community interest?

Twenty plus years ago, while travelling through several European countries, I noticed water conservation techniques that were mandatory there but not mandated, or even available, in the United States. Even then, decades before the water rationing in California, I thought the techniques should be required in construction of all homes, condominiums, and apartments throughout the United States. Twenty plus years ago, I lacked the resources to change public opinion. Although I still lack financial resources, I can now use my words and my voice to increase the awareness needed to create solutions.

The problem of recovering from water shortage, as I see it, is very similar to recovering from medical adversity. One person might not be able to solve a problem, but finding a solution is hardly a challenge for the right team. There are clearly factors outside our control, but a solution does not exist because too many people are analyzing the problem from the same perspective. A solution is much more likely when a problem is considered from multiple perspectives – for example, the perspectives of people who think a little differently such as survivors of life-threatening medical adversity.

It is time to wake up California! We need to create and implement solutions rather than simply ignore problems. Even a partial solution, that is not ideal for everybody, is better than no solution.


  1. This is such a hugely important issue! Our politicians must somehow find it in themselves to look past their funders and their polls and work TOGETHER on what will ultimately become a life and death issue on a massive scale. Not optimistic.

    1. Howard, even if finding a solution is dismal, we have to try something. Clearly what has been done in the past has not worked. As you said, it is “important,” we cannot afford to look the other way and pretend the problem does not exist. The problem is here now. We must do something.

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