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Peter Getty is a philanthropist and contributing blogger for the Huffington Post. His work and writings revolve around environmental issues. Getty's philanthropic initiatives, as well as the organizations he supports, are committed to protecting the environment and spreading environmental awareness.

Brown Lawns In A Dry State

peter getty lawnCalifornia is experiencing record-breaking drought. A neighbor’s lawn has gone unwatered. What’s more important?

In Glendora, California, a couple was facing a fine of $500 for conserving water. The eyesore, some brown grass, was apparently reported to authorities. The entire ordeal is an embarrassment, and an example of how our priorities are often very mixed up.

It’s easy to understand how it happened. There are a number of community laws and standards to enforce. Everyone agreed to live under these guidelines. And in a neighborhood of green lawns, most of us would probably think a little lower of the one house on the block with a brown lawn.

Here’s the thing. California’s water supply is running low. Most of it is used for massive agricultural use, but a quarter of it is for personal use. This includes drinking water, washing cars, and yes – watering lawns.

Years into the drought, there are now ‘water cops’ on the prowl, seeking Californians who might be wasting the most precious natural resource, water. Neighbors are calling the cops on each other when they catch them washing their car.

These restrictions are running up against community standards. Allowing your yard to go brown for more than two months results in a $500 ticket. Jerry Brown recently signed an exemption into law that excused people who were choosing not to water their lawns in an attempt to lower their water footprint.

With no end in sight, it’s time to educate the people of the state about the severity of the drought, and some of the changes that will be coming along with it. Finding potential solutions also needs to be a more prevalent topic of conversation, much more so than fines.

Hysteria and finger-pointing doesn’t help.