If Rich People Don’t Stop Guzzling Water in This Drought, I’m Fetching the Guillotine
Let us water the land with their tears of shame
California is currently in a massive drought. Those of you who aren’t on the U.S. west coast might be thinking, Wait, wasn’t California in a drought, like, last year? Yes, we were! Just as we were in 2019, 2017, and several years before that! As you can see at drought.gov, climate change is making droughts more severe and more frequent in California and elsewhere. Making matters worse is the fact that a huge portion of our water here in L.A. County comes from out of state, mainly the Colorado River. That means that when we get no rain for months and months at a time, our local governments put water restrictions in place to save us from our boneheaded, pool-having, lawn-loving, water-guzzling selves.
But rich folks apparently haven’t gotten the message!
This new report in the L.A. Times details some of the most outrageous water abuses happening among the L.A. glitterati. There are currently water restrictions all over California, with most people limited to watering their yards 1 or 2 times a week. However, in the ultra-wealthy enclaves of Hidden Hills and Calabasas, both located just northwest of Los Angeles, more than 2,000 homeowners were recently cited for using 150% of their water allotments or more.
The culprits include Kim Kardashian, who was cited for going 232,000 gallons over her June water budget, and Sylvester Stallone, who went 230,000 gallons over. Both of them live on large estates with extensive landscaping.
If you need an idea of what drought life is like for all of us insignificant peons, I let the flower boxes on my balcony die last year because I felt too guilty to water them. It just felt blasphemous to let that precious water run out the bottom of the boxes onto the pavement. People who are lucky enough to have yards have to pay attention to which days of the week they’re allowed to water them (for example, Mondays and Fridays for odd-numbered addresses). People living in the outskirts of the city periodically have to evacuate because of wildfires. No one is under any illusion that the drought is going to, as we used to say in the distant past, “end.” Nowadays, we all just wonder how much worse things are going to get.
What most (well, many (well, some)) of us understand is that the California drought is not a joke. It’s not a game. Climate change is literally destroying the land we depend on for survival, and you can’t magically produce more water from nowhere just because you think you’re entitled to it.
The Kardashians didn’t respond to the Times’ request for comment, but Stallone’s lawyer offered a hilarious defense:
[The Stallones] have more than 500 mature trees on the property, including innumerable fruit trees as well as pine trees. Absent adequate watering, in all likelihood they would die. That could result in dead or damaged trees falling on my client’s property or neighboring properties.
Oh, Sylvester. First off, if you’re using all this fruit to feed the hungry schoolchildren of Los Angeles, then okay, maybe you get some leeway. But if it’s your private pleasure orchard, your own personal Xanadu of tender pears and plums, then I’m afraid you don’t get to have that. If the trees die because the Earth is slowly frying like a breaded chicken wing, then it’s on you to replace those trees with native drought-tolerant ones. Secondly, if your pines are already drought tolerant, then you don’t need to water them so much!
To his credit, Stallone’s lawyer also mentions that Stallone is taking measures like letting his grasses die, which … great, that’s a start, but according to the Times report, he still increased his water use between May and June, to 533% over his allotment.
This situation has all the worst aspects of capitalism rolled into one. There’s the belief that if you have enough money, rules don’t apply to you. There’s the idea that the planet is just a giant shopping cart full of resources for you to consume. And there’s the general reluctance of authorities to crack down on the people doing the most damage.
Luckily, the Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, which provides water to Calabasas and Hidden Hills, has begun to install flow restrictor devices that forcibly cut homeowners’ water supplies down to 1/30th of their normal capacity. If you’re looking for a little schadenfreude, the devices don’t just cut the flow of sprinklers and hoses—they also affect showers.
That’s right: If you’re wasting water, then you don’t get to enjoy a luxurious high-pressure shower. Honestly, rich people should be thankful the rest of us aren’t coming after them with pitchforks.
(featured image: Warner Bros.)
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]