Water, Deserts & the Wealthy

In American society, the wealthy enjoy an increasing number of social perks, based on their ability and willingness to pay for them; close-in parking spots, toll lanes and rapid boarding privileges are but a few examples.  It was thus with dismay that I read an article in the NY Times outlining Santa Fe's move to base water price rates on the amount consumed; the report placed a positive spin on that decision, indicating that rates would not significantly rise for lower income citizens while the wealthy will pay heavily to fill their pools and water their lush landscapes.

In my opinion, such a solution to the Western water shortage misses the point and, once again, caters to the lifestyles of the rich and famous.  If one chooses to live in an arid or semiarid environment, one should be willing to forgo green lawns, parks and golf courses and live without private swimming pools.  If the cities must expand their populations to meet economic needs (a questionable premise), new residential complexes should be limited to apartments and condos, not sprawling suburban developments complete with fountains and rolling, irrigated lawns.

We must embrace our natural ecosystems in order to protect them.  If we enjoy a dry, sunny climate, we cannot insist that it look like the Tropics or even the American Midwest.  Fresh water is a finite resource and its excessive diversion from Western ecosystems should not be justified by one's ability to pay for it.