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Standard Deviations: Water fight brings out worst in some Farmington residents

By Mark Saal, Standard-Examiner - | Jul 29, 2018

Water fight!

And not the fun kind, either.

There’s been a battle brewing in my Farmington community for a few weeks now, and it all boiled over last Tuesday morning.

Pioneer Day dawned hot, and as a result my wife and I had determined to let our grandkids cool off by splashing around in a little kiddie pool we’d purchased that very day for them. Yes, I realize there are water restrictions in place in our town, but it was a fairly small pool (It cost a mere $8), and the letter of the law said no “watering” from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

Technically, we weren’t watering.

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Besides, we’ve been very faithful in adhering to the drought restrictions imposed by Benchland Water District, which provides our irrigation water. We cut our watering back from three time a week for 15 minutes per station to twice a week (sometimes less) for 10 minutes a station.

We figured just this once — and on a holiday, no less — we could splurge with a few minutes of daytime H2O.

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So I set up the pool on a flat, dry spot on the lawn, got out the hose and sent grandma to the garden spigot to turn on the secondary water.

She twisted the handle.


She closed and opened it again.

Again, nothing.

Baffled, my wife shrugged her shoulders in my direction.

“There’s no water,” she said.

I, of course, immediately panicked, assuming we’d somehow been busted. Perhaps our “smart” dishwasher heard us talking about the kiddie pool that morning — or the black-helicopter drones circling overhead captured our movements in the backyard — and somewhere deep beneath the surface of the earth at Benchland headquarters a man in a crisp brown uniform shouted, “Shut ‘er down!”

My wife was a bit more practical. She took to the internet and social media to figure out what was going on. And that’s when she found a post on our neighborhood Facebook page. The neighbor’s post began, “Are you wondering why your irrigation water is turned off?”

The woman went on to explain that a Benchland board member — who happens to live in our neighborhood — said 30 million gallons of water had been drained from the district’s reservoir overnight, and that it would take a day and a half to refill the reservoir.

Not only that, but Benchland suspects part of it was the result of some customers who intentionally let their water run all night out of sheer vindictiveness.

Running your water all night — wasting a precious natural resource — in a misguided attempt at getting back at managers of that resource? Who in Farmington would be petty enough to do such a thing? (Best guess? The same chowderheads who got all bent out of shape and tried to circumvent the democratic process when students at the new Farmington High School chose the “Phoenix” mascot.)

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It’s like you and I wandering in the desert with only a canteen of water between us, and when you tell me we have to ration the water I say, “Oh, yeah?” and pour it out on the ground.

Stupid is as stupid does.

But getting back to our Pioneer Day story …

Well, sir, we were now between a rock and a dry place. We’d already mentioned the P-O-O-L to the grandkids, so we were clearly committed. But the secondary water was out.

So we used culinary water.

Which only goes to show you the power grandchildren wield over their grandparents. Because had the house water been out as well, I’d have gone down to the grocery store and purchased a few dozen cases of that fancy-expensive bottled water with which to fill the kiddie pool.

And if the grocery store were out? Your humble columnist is probably sitting in a jail somewhere for trying to boost one of those dust-dampening water trucks from a construction site.

Farmington’s inaugural Day Without Secondary Water really got me to thinking. Thinking about how to get through to people who just don’t seem to get it. I mean, how do you reason with people who believe their inalienable right to unlimited secondary water is second only to their Second Amendment right?

How do you shame someone who has no shame?

That same neighbor who alerted us to the water issue on Facebook later took to social media with a follow-up post. She said Benchland had been getting “trolled” by people calling and emailing “threats.” She encouraged her neighbors to reach out to Benchland to let them know how much their water conservation attempts are appreciated.

She then concluded with the sage wisdom: “Brown is the new green!”

So consider this my letter to you, Benchland:

Thank you for your service. Thank you for promoting conservation. I’m sorry you have to put up with selfish, entitled people who feel it’s their right to waste water.

And if I were you, I’d slap meters on every one of us in Farmington. And triple the price of our irrigation water. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about human nature, it’s that the only way to stop people from wasting something is to make it too expensive to waste.

As for us? My wife and I will continue to tighten our watering belt. And I hope our dishwasher will relay this message back to Benchland’s NORAD-like underground fortress: No more indulging grandkids in holiday swim parties. I promise.

I wonder if we still have the receipt for that kiddie pool?

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, or msaal@standard.net. Follow him on Twitter at @Saalman. Friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/MarkSaal.


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