Brett Barbre is a man.
A man with a wife, two daughters, a grandson and a yellow lab named Huckleberry. He is the sort of guy who, in his official bio, lists that he has a dog named Huckleberry because, well, some people just do that sort of thing. Woof.
Brett Barbre also happens to serve on the board of the Municipal Water District of Orange County, which means he has a strong say on how this part of California (5,200 square miles) uses water to “meet present and future needs in an environmentally and economically responsible way.”
You would think, by holding such a position, Barbre is freaked out by the fourth year of the most crippling drought in state history. You’d think Barbre has converted to fake grass and succulents and minimal sprinkler times and buckets in the showers. You’d think he’d be hitting the pavements, warning folks that, at this rate, California is facing the very real possibility of ultimately rationing water in the way of many Third World nations.
You’d think …
And you’d be wrong.
I was recently forwarded this video of a segment from a PBS special on the California water crisis. It’s interesting and detailed, and the most important part comes around 1:22 in, when we’re introduced to Barbre—who looks into the camera and says, with great conviction, “They’re gonna have to pry the hose out of my cold, dead fingers. I have a yard where I’ve invested money in the landscaping, I have a dog who likes to run in the yard, I have a family that likes to come over and visit. And it’s unfair for them to force me to cut my use 36 percent.”
I personally would love to pry the hose out of Barbre’s cold, dead fingers. Actually, scratch that. I wish death upon no one. What I would love, however, is to ask Barbre how, exactly, this shit works itself out. Right now, California has minimal water. Look around the state, and it’s jarring. Also right now, it’s not raining. Like, almost never. So you have this dry state, and it’s not being replenished. Or, to put in simple terms for folks like Brett: An empty bucket without water remains an empty bucket.
So, again, I’d love to ask Brett how this works out; how—with a clear mind and conscience—he takes the limited water we have and uses it to preserve the decorative landscape outside his home. I’d like to know how he’ll feel when all the water is gone; when the state is dry because he and millions of others continue to worry about something as trivial as a lawn. Yeah, I realize there’s more at play here—agriculture and baseball fields and groundwater and on and on and on. But, undeniably, if there’s a limited resource, and we use it and use it and use it, we have less of that limited resource. Then less, and less, and less. Ultimately, it vanishes.
One more thing: During the PBS segment, Barbre said something that sent me into a mild rage. His exact quote: “In this country, if you have the money and you want to buy something, you should be able to buy it.” I defy anyone to find me a more shallow and self-indulgent commentary on the water crisis. Yeah, we’re running out. And yeah, there are parts of this state where wells have gone dead and folks are relying on bottled water. But because I, Brett Barbre, have money, I should be able to use as much as I want.