Stand and deliver

I’m in downtown Reno on the 14th floor of a building overlooking the Truckee River. Here in late October, after the rain and snow from these blessed early storms, the river is now looking like a river again. A few days ago, though, the Truckee was looking very very skimpy indeed.

All of this hydrological drama had me thinkin’ on something an old-timer from Sparks told me a few years ago. It was a tasteless and vulgar notion whose time has finally arrived here in the modern era. He held forth the notion that during times of drought, it would be an intelligent, even evolved, plan of civic action to encourage as many local males as possible to quit peeing into toilets and instead wander outside and soak the bushes.

Obviously, this would be a difficult proposition to have put forth by government. It would just be very darn tricky for a Sparks City Councilman or a Washoe County Water Czar to propose without turning a detectable shade of crimson or breaking down altogether into a series of sophomoric cackles. Such a movement would have to be a completely populist effort, a quiet, determined movement building slowly from the grass roots up.

The population of the general area these days is about 300,000. So, OK, you’ve got 150,000 males. If just 10,000 of them would volunteer for this upstanding assignment, serious water would be saved.

Here’s the math: Let’s say those 10,000 males all drain once a day out in their yards (assuming these are fenced yards in order to provide the privacy necessary for the preservation of a modest community). And let’s say those 10,000 leaks mean that 10,000 toilets with three gallons of water per flush (on average; some are five, others are low-flow) are spared one flush a day. That’s 30,000 gallons that us considerate men/boys have allowed to remain in our river’s water system, which computes out almost a million gallons a month, or 12 million gallons a year. With such savings, the Truckee Meadows Water Authority could then fill two to three good-sized water hazards on one of the new golf courses slated to be built. The kind of hazards that have catfish in them. Or, put another way, we could slake the desperate thirsts of 30,000 Burning Man celebrants (assuming they are all glugging a gallon a day) for roughly the next 60 years.

Males becoming voluntary whizzards would provide a few eco-benefits to their back yards. For one, those backyard plants would appreciate the nutrients contained in this liquid fertilizer. Outdoor pee-ers would be able to keep cats, rabbits, squirrels, and other feral vermin at bay, since these creatures are traumatized by the ominous scents of man-soaked boundaries. And with the menfolk adopting that outdoorsy approach, the queen of the house would then rarely have to crab about any unfortunate collateral damage involving the goddang toilet seat.