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What Water Crisis? Bed bugs to bed sheets!

How to save 240,000,000 gallons per day!

There once was a prince very concerned about bed bugs who ruled Peaceful Valley. He did not like bed bugs so much he decreed that only new sheets for all the beds in Peaceful Valley be used once and then thrown away. The problem was there became what was known as the “Bed Sheet Crisis” caused by various court orders and bed sheet suppliers. The supply started to diminish, and there was a disposal problem with the once-used bed sheets which were filling up the landfills around PV. Various conservation plans were put in place. “Those with even numbered addresses would use bed sheets on even numbered days and those with odd numbered addresses would use bed sheets on odd numbered days.”

Then a smart inventor from PV came up with what became known as “The Prince’s Washing Machine. Now certain citizens of PV heard of this new device and put out severe warnings with the negative catch phrase, “Bed Bugs to Bed Sheets” (Toilet to Tap). However they became fewer and fewer in number.  With a decree from the Prince that his Washing Machine was now the order of the day, suddenly, the bed sheet shortage was over, and peace reigned again in Peaceful Valley.

A silly story, well slightly. But not as silly as sending 240 million gallons per day of partially treated San Diego sewage (used once) out to the ocean.

Let’s analyze what happened in Peaceful Valley. To begin with, the Prince, unaware the bed bug problem could be solved by technology made bad public policy that caused one-time use of bed sheets. Once the Prince was aware of a way to clean the bed sheets, despite the naysayers, and the idea of recycled bed sheets, he made a good public policy decision as the leader of PV. He had the political will to do it. Initially scorn was heaped upon the Prince since the whole idea was abhorrent to most citizens who had grown accustomed to one-time bed sheets. What the PV citizens did not know was the supply of “new” bed sheets into Peaceful Valley came from a laundry in the adjacent town. The supply shortage occurred because the laundry in that town was being shut down. The negative Bed Bugs to Bed Sheets campaign had been successful.

There is a huge difference between a benevolent dictator, the Prince, and a democratic society. But the matter of leadership remain a constant providing the agenda of the leadership is to focus on the welfare of the people and not on being appointed or elected in the next political cycle.

There would be no “water crisis” if good public water policy is put in place. This is a “political crisis”. I have talked to various water officials. When I ask why not recycle our sewage to drinking water quality, the answer is there is not the political will to do it. From a cost point of view, it is less costly to change sewage into drinking water using reservoir augmentation than it is to change ocean salt water into drinking water. It will take an estimated $2.2 billion dollars to build the infrastructure. The question is do we build more municipal monuments, or do we assure water security for San Diego? Seems like an easy question to answer.

Note: This piece was originally published at San Diego.com in 2009. It has been updated.


Comment from Martha Golea
Time May 30, 2013 at 1:36 pm

What a creative analogy! Thanks for following me on Twitter (@MarGoH2O) – I look forward to hearing more from you and exploring more of your blog posts.

Comment from milt
Time May 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Thanks Martha. Very kind words. Look for my book coming out in the Fall of 2013 titled, Water Shock. The basis of it is failed public water policy. A somewhat different approach to the water crisis using fictional characters and real historical data written for Mr. and Mrs. What Water Crisis.
Milt Burgess

Comment from Raj Kumar
Time June 28, 2013 at 3:34 am

Dear Sir,
There is a scientific scope for the very low sea water transportation and its conversion into drinking water for the human. The scope is unlimited and beyond geographical constrains. One day, I shall work on that, just after getting / securing a good source of earning for a happy family livings. Many individual researchers remains busy in getting appropriate livelihood sources, and with time they fail to take such tasks.

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