As Twin Cities residents who variously walk, bike, drive, and ride transit, members of the Star Tribune Editorial Board are sometimes amused, sometimes alarmed by the factions that arise in support of favored activities. We think it takes all these things to make a metro, although occasional adverse experiences with each allow us to understand how tensions originate.
Into this simmering stew we’d like to add our own flavor of peevishness — a complaint against homeowners who heedlessly water sidewalks and streets along with their lawns. Such behavior wastes a resource and, depending on the spray, antagonizes pedestrians, forcing them either to test their agility or navigate a dry perimeter, perhaps one less protected from traffic.
We do appreciate people who take care of their properties — this also makes communities desirable. We’re not about to tell anyone to give up their Kentucky bluegrass, though we’d note that a lush carpet is not the only pleasing kind of lawn and that making some of it less water-intensive is worth a thought.
But, again, the pavement. It’s been estimated that half the irrigation used on landscapes is ineffective. To that we’d add (without even getting into the issue of runoff) that any water trained on a nonporous surface is woefully deployed unless you’re hoping one day to grow moss.
The water supply may not seem like much of a problem in our region just now. In recent months, an abundance has fallen from the sky, with consequences including flooding and delayed planting. In general, though, we’re lucky to live in an area that dependably turns green in the springtime and presents only occasional, terminable droughts. But much of the world suffers more tenuous patterns of replenishment. In India, the metropolitan area around Chennai, home to 9 million people, has been watching wells run dry. In California, a multiyear drought contributed to wildfires that killed more than 100 people last fall. (If you have concerns about how human behavior might alter our own aquatic bounty, you may mentally add them here.)
So watch where you point that water. Also, it wouldn’t be wrong to be aware of bicyclists and pedestrians when you drive, follow expectations no matter your mode of movement, make eye contact at intersections, and always clean your plate.