Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Water Your Lawn, Please

Speech to the Josephine County Commissioners, 9/28/2011

 If you have property in the City, letting your lawn go dry to save money on water is saving money at the expense of your neighbours.  First, dead grass looks bad, bringing down the look of the neighbourhood, and therefore property values.  Second, the weeds move in.  If they aren’t frequently mowed, they spread seed to the neighbours while looking even worse.  Third, it raises water rates on everyone. 
If it was only a matter of ugly dead grass, it wouldn’t be so bad.  But Nature abhors a vacuum, and fills a dead lawn with weeds, particularly weeds that fly on the wind.  Weeds don’t need irrigation; all they need is open soil with a bit of sun.
Your closest neighbours bear the brunt of your dead, weedy lawn; weeds seeds don’t fly far in a city full of trees.  In my work as a gardener, I have learned that, if I have a problem with windblown weeds, there are uncontrolled weeds within a block.
Sitting in on City Council meetings, I have learned that water rates have had to rise because people are using less water, and the more the rates rise, the less water people use.  The cost of treating and delivering water is largely fixed costs in people and equipment; very little of it is pumping or chemical supplies.   Collectively, we pay nearly the same regardless of how much we use.  Individually, we pay more if we use more.  Those who use less make others pay more as rates must rise to cover their lack.
The County’s property on Dimmick, the old hospital, is a case in point.  Part of the property is being used and maintained.  The other part is officially “abandoned” and has not been watered for years.  Trees have died and the lawn on that side has filled with false dandelions that are not mowed frequently enough to keep their seeds from flying on the breeze. 
Please restore the lawn on that property.  The first step is to water it, and pull the weeds.  Then seed in good grass—this is a good season for that—and hope that the growing grass stops the weeds seeds from sprouting, but pull those that grow. 
This would also bring the County into compliance with City code on that property.  The basis of law is to love one’s neighbours, for as Paul said, “Love does no harm to a neighbour; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”  Please love your neighbours by watering and restoring your lawn.

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