The Sac Bee has a new “photo gallery” solicitation on the Web site — a “community reporting project,” they’re calling it — asking folks to send in photos (registration required to look at the photos) of “the city’s biggest water wasters.”
Include a brief description of the date and time the photo was taken and where it was taken, including street address and nearest cross street.
Sounds an awful lot like the Bee wants us to rat out our neighbors. I’m not sure where to start with this, but I think I’ll start with this: breaking the city’s watering rules is not synonymous with “wasting” water. One could easily follow the letter of the law in a wasteful way, just as one could water on off-days in a conservationist way.
What if I miss my assigned day because I’m diligently fixing a broken sprinkler, to avoid a fine? Would anyone really call it wasteful to water my allotted amount the following day? On the other hand, what if I have only a tiny patch of grass to water but I use up all allotted time and am careful to avoid runoff? Wouldn’t that be actually wasteful?
Here’s another problem — the Bee got the party started by providing a photo by Bee reporter Charles Piller (though the photo is attributed to Ken Chavez) of Land Park, a city property. As I reported when the new watering laws were announced, the city is exempt from the water-wasting measures. In other words, the photo is moot — the city apparently cannot waste water. If the Bee can’t do this tiny amount of research, how is it going to have the tentacles to research every photo sent in by readers? Neighbors have been known to have disagreements and if the Bee cannot provide verification that the photos were taken when they say they were (I’m just supposed to take the Bee’s word for it?) I wouldn’t put it past people to take photos of their neighbors legally watering their property and claim it was on an off-day. Is the Bee equipped to do forensics on every photo to determine that the timestamps hadn’t been altered?
As I write this, at 9:15 AM, readers have provided what appears to be an over-exposed photo of a Christmas tree and one picture of that Joker/Obama poster. Comments are not allowed on the Bee’s story, but I’d love to see Sac Bee commenters let loose on this idea.