California Pitting Neighbors Against Neighbors, George Orwell A Prophet?

California Pitting Neighbors Against Neighbors, George Orwell A Prophet?

Neighbors are tattling on neighbors

for wasting water and some are taking their drought shaming to Social Media. If you’ve ever
had the feeling you’re being watched while you water your lawn, there’s a good chance you are during this historic drought. In Sacramento, water wasters can face fines, and the enforcer may be someone who lives right next door.

Terrance Davis with the city department of utilities says he’s seeing a trend of drought shaming. “Our water use complaint calls have gone up exponentially from the last 2 years,” he said. Karen Halbo lives in River Park. She says it’s not about whose lawn is greener anymore, it’s about whose lawn is browner. “Frankly when your lawn looks as bad as mine does you sort of want to encourage others to stop watering concrete,” she said. Down the street, Pam Ferko admits the pressure from her neighbors not to waste sometimes has her sneaking around.


“Today’s update from the ministry of truth brought to you in newspeak” George Orwell

“I think my husband has been guilty of coming out late at night and doing a little secretive watering underneath the trees,” she said. Even the Capitol lawn is drought shaming by example, with signs reading “If we can go brown, so can you.” Some may find the drought shaming vindictive or sneaky, but the city says that competition is motivation, and it’s working to reduce water waste. “Obviously we can’t see everything, can’t be everywhere so having people in the community helping us out—residents, neighbors—reporting those types of things is a great tool for us too,” Davis said. The city says from January to June, it’s received more than 8,000 calls to its water-use complaint line. Just last month, the city saw a 17 percent cut in water use.

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