Future Water Wars – Mega Rich vs. Everybody Else

A few months ago, I visited East Porterville, a California town where hundreds of residents have no water—except for the water that’s trucked in and given away by the state, and by generous donors.

Meanwhile in Montecito, near Santa Barbara, some of the country’s wealthiest residents (including Oprah Winfrey) are getting water trucked in as well—although they’re paying serious coin for it.  According to an article on the Breitbart.com website, a columnist from the Montecito Journal estimated that nearly a third of the town’s residents are getting freshly delivered water—at a cost of about $15,000 per month apiece.  Water they can use for brushing their teeth, filling their pools, and greening their lawns.

Now the big question—should the super rich be able to buy as much of a scarce, limited resource as their bloated wallets can afford while the rest of us are stuck with what’s left?  Should we look upon water as a commodity that anyone can buy if they have the money, or as a right that belongs to everyone regardless of financial status?  These are questions that we will very soon have to come to grips with.  And maybe even go to war over—whether locally, regionally, or globally.

In East Porterville, hundreds of residents filled out ration cards that were punched when they collected their weekly allotment of donated water.  As I watched the cars line up for their ration, I thought about how people live in some Third World countries.  But here I was, no more than a few miles from Interstate 5.

I will never feel the same about water again.

It’s going to be up to each of us to decide what we want our future to look like.  If we do nothing, then lobbyists for special interests will carry the day.  Every voice counts when it comes to making our elected and appointed officials responsible for what we pay them for.  This is not just another political issue we can ignore.  The people–all of us– will be the ones that drive change.  Do you believe you deserve your share of water?  Then let your voice be heard!

7 Comments on Future Water Wars – Mega Rich vs. Everybody Else

  1. I love your new blog, Jeanne – thank you for making it easy for the rest of us to figure this stuff out, as well as providing interesting water related topics. I deal with this same mega-rich dilemma where I live here in Northern California, and know several people who don’t really care how much water will cost. In their world, it’s worth it to them to have their lush park-like lawns. It KILLS me to hear this attitude. Thank heavens most of my own clients are having me remove their lawns to install drought-tolerant gardens in their place. Keep up the good work!

  2. Tina Tiso // April 24, 2015 at 10:14 pm //

    Hi Jeanne,
    thank you for your insight. We need to preserve our agricultural heritage here in California. I too have a small grove. I put in a well 3 years ago at considerable expense, but that too will be threatened eventually. In discussing this with some garden club and church members…why can we not pipe water from the states that have an abundance for a price, of course? At least to fill our reservoirs. I have not heard the powers that be in Sacramento come up with any plan at all.
    Regards to you,

  3. lois caldwell // April 25, 2015 at 4:29 pm //

    Very thought provoking topic for current debate. Is there an answer??? Short of turning off the water in less affluent communities?? Remember the gas shortage? I do – with cars lined up around the block on odd or even days! Informative – I didn’t know about Porterville. I live in the “high desert” and I often see trucks carrying huge water containers because their homes are “off the grid”. It can be done, but not really for all of us.

  4. HI Jeanne, thank you for you insight. Indeed it is a complicated issue. As landscape contractors in Montecito, we do see some interesting things. Fortunately for us, none of our customers are trucking in water and most are replacing lawn with drought-tolerant plants. However, I’d like to schedule you as a guest on Garden Gossip, our local radio show here in Santa Barbara. We broadcast live Fridays 11am. Interested? Please email me directly to talk more. Thanks again, Lisa

  5. Lorie Johansen // May 6, 2015 at 7:50 pm //


    Thank you for doing the research and educating people about the crisis of water shortage. Please share what we private homeowners can do to conserve. Every drop counts.


  6. DeAnne Mahlum // May 7, 2015 at 12:20 am //

    Thank you again Jeanne! You contribute so much towards the encouragement of water conservation – starting w/ your own very beautiful property where you had lawns removed and replaced w/ drought tolerant plants, especially succulents. I try to do the same and am really happy when my contacts have started to consider ways to beautify their landscaping w/out the use of so much water. Here in Fallbrook we live in a very arid climate and it is so important to consider adapting to our natural climate as opposed to trying to use so much water to have yards that look as though we have an abundance of water. I greatly appreciate all that you do to support water conservation!!
    DeAnne Mahlum

  7. While battle lines are being drawn between rich and poor, a bigger conflict is brewing between town and country. As many as 95 per cent of Californians live in urban areas, and yet they use just 20 per cent of the state’s water. The governor’s mandatory restrictions do not apply to agriculture, which accounts for the remaining 80 per cent.

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