Friday, December 28, 2018

Confessions of a Bath-a-holic

"The Bath-a-holic"
My name is Jana. There is nothing I care about more than water security and... I am a bath-a-holic. Yeah, it's a thing. This is the 20th anniversary of my short film, "The Bath-a-holic," inspired by my mom. When I was little, my mom would disappear into the bathroom with a magazine - no doubt to escape her noisy horde of kids. Now that I think of it, I should have known. She brought a magazine into the bathroom, but no matches. So that's why we never had any hot water. That's why dad always bellowed about wasting water. Who knew dad was a water conservationist!

This isn't easy for me to admit. If you follow my blog, you know that Dan and I put a lot of effort (and muscle) into conserving water in the desert. Dan dug catchment basins to catch greywater from our washing machine. We use rainwater from the roof on desert-adapted heritage fig and pomegranate trees. We even carry our dishwater out to water the compost pit and our hummingbird trumpets. We turn the water off while we brush our teeth or while we soap up in the shower. You might say we're a little compulsive about the whole water thing.

But, if I'm gonna be completely honest...sometimes I don't feel like carrying a tub of water outside. I make convenient excuses like it's already raining out there. And I have to confess...I don't always turn the water off while I scrub my hair. Sometimes, just sometimes, I like to lean back and enjoy the steamy hot water massaging my worried little head. I perfect my vocal stylings as I turn the water up hotter and hotter and HOTTER. Sometimes I just have to wash away all of my cares about our 19 year drought or how Tucson's water is pushed 326 miles uphill using a dirty coal generator to power the pumps. Shoot! That just killed my buzz. I'm out of hot water anyway. Oh, well. Next time I'll do better. I'll let Dan take his shower first so the water won't go down the drain while it warms up. (My baby is so stoic and strong!) I'll turn off the water while I shave my legs. Or better yet I'll stop shaving my legs. I'll let the water mellow until Dan uses the toilet in the morning. I'll let him put a composting toilet in our cactus garden! Anything! As long as I can sing "The Way We Were" at the top of my lungs until the hot water runs out - at least once in a while.

I guess I should clarify why I wrote this blog. I don't have some deep-seeded need to confess - I'm doing the best I can right now. Changing habits is hard - as I expressed in an earlier tongue-in-cheek blog, "Spilt Tomatoes."  In this capitalist country we have been taught to consume, consume, consume. Our current economy relies on it. The only acceptable reason for most people to slow down is because it is cost prohibitive. We take our water for granted because we don't pay the real cost of it. We complain when our water bill goes up to cover those costs.  Many Arizonans have no idea where our water comes from. We're only beginning to understand the impact of our 19 year drought.

Now that we are aware, we can do something. Being conscious of our water use is the first step in conserving it. Turning the water off while we brush our teeth or we scrub our hands is a good place to start. Once that becomes a habit, it becomes easier to see other ways to conserve water. Planting native trees that don't require a lot of water is pretty painless... Dan and I really enjoy transforming our yard into a desert rainwater oasis. It is a process. A process of unlearning unsustainable consumer thinking and starting new habits. So I guess the point of this blog is that even though I'm not perfect, I can do something to make a difference. It's not easy. But it's a start.

It's time to start.


Picture on top of page: The talented Caroline Reed in The Bath-a-holic.

I wrote my Member of Congress, "Repealing Waters of the U.S. Makes it Legal to Pollute Arizona Water."

Cienega Creek Watershed that flows into Tucson's watershed
Reprinted from Desktop Activist Tucson, January 16, 2019

This morning I listened to the confirmation hearing for Andrew Wheeler to head of the E.P.A. It was good to hear members of Congress challenging Wheeler's actions and pressing for climate action! But I was disheartened to hear Wheeler's statement that repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule would not affect the States' authority to protect their water. Unfortunately, that isn't true of Arizona. Arizona law prohibits the state from passing regulations that go beyond federal standards. So essentially repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule makes it legal to pollute our water. (See details in letter below.)

At Sustainable Tucson's environmental education meeting with Rep. Kirkpatrick, I urged her to sponsor a bill codifying the rule into law. My request is included in my water presentation that I posted here.

I wanted to share my letter encouraging Sen. Sinema to do the same. 
Dear Senator Kyrsten Sinema,
I believe that the future of Tucson depends on preserving and protecting our water supply. Towards that end, my husband and I volunteer a great deal of our time promoting conservation and rainwater harvesting. 
I am writing to urge you to work on codifying the Waters of the U.S. Rule into law - since it is currently an EPA rule that any acting president can change at will. In fact, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are already implementing Executive Order 13778 which directs federal agencies to rescind the Waters of the U.S. that included rivers that don't flow year around. Repealing this rule will have a devastating impact on our water supply. All of our waterways are connected. If we don't protect streams and non-perennial rivers, we aren't protecting the bigger rivers. Tucson, in particular, will be negatively affected by repealing the Waters of the U.S. rule. Arizona's water has already been depleted by a 19 year drought. But repealing the Water of the U.S. Rule will leave Tucson's water supply completely unprotected.

As Pima County Administrator C.H. Huckelberry stated:
Tucsonans rely on both surface water and groundwater derived by infiltration or runoff, as well as Colorado River water. History has shown that pollutants entering dry riverbeds can contaminate our drinking water. Changes in standards for the Clean Water Act would be particularly consequential in Arizona. While other states have the authority to protect the quality of streams not subject to the Clean Water Act's jurisdiction, Arizona does NOT. In Arizona, state legislation forbids state agencies from exceeding the federal regulatory framework. Therefore, any reduction in scope of federal jurisdiction may have the effect of exempting certain areas from water quality protections at the state level. 
EPA data showed that 94 percent of streams in Arizona were protected by the Waters of the U.S. rule. These streams are small but they feed into the Gila and Santa Cruz rivers. If the protections of the Clean Water Act are reduced to perennial waters, the vast majority of Arizona's streams will have no water quality protections at all. Essentially pollution becomes legal unless the state steps in. The state means the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality - which advertises that it sped up the permitting process for businesses and reduced "burdensome" laws and regulations - 48 of them.

The Waters of the US Rule affects most of Tucson’s rivers (because most are not perennial). For example, without the Waters of the US rule, there is little to stop the operators of the Rosemont mine from dumping tailings and other pollutants into Davidson Canyon where they eventually would make their way into Cienega Creek and Tucson’s water supply. This stream provides Tucson with 20% of our ground water.

Senator Sinema, it is vital for the Waters of the U.S. rule to be codified into law to protect Tucson's water supply for now and in the future. Please, do everything you can to make the Waters of the U.S. Rule a law. 
Thank you,
Jana Segal

You might consider writing your Representative and Senators to work on codifying the Waters of the US into law so it can't be changed by any acting president at will.

The details are included in the e-mail I just sent to Senator Kyrsten Sinema.  Feel free to use the facts, but personalize it so it won't sound like a form letter.

You can contact Sinema at 602-598-7327 or email contact@sinema.senate.gov.

If you would like to thank Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick for meeting with us and urge her to codify the Waters of the U.S. into law, I believe she can be reached at:

1636 North Swan Road, Suite 200
Tucson, AZ 85712

309 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515