This week, for just the third time in history, Metro Vancouver moved to stage-three water restrictions.
We all know what stage three means – your lawn is toast, your car is filthy and you've spent hours standing over your vegetable or flower garden, hose in hand, with only a spring-loaded nozzle to keep you company.
The little rain that falls this weekend helps, but won't be enough. Metro Vancouver officials are looking ahead to what could become an even worse crisis should a substantial amount of rain not fall between now and September. And according to the forecast, by the middle of next week we'll be back to relentless sunshine and temperatures in the mid-20s.
This is bad.
But ask yourself this: Are you doing everything you can to conserve water? Really, are you?
Here are some helpful and creative suggestions.
Take at least two buckets into the shower with you. Collect the excess water (especially when the shower is warming up) and use it to water outdoor plants. Strain water from the second bucket for impurities and refrigerate for later consumption. Use a fruity-smelling shampoo or soap so your family will think you've infused the refrigerated water with strawberries or watermelon or something. Reinforce this idea by pouring it from a decorative ceramic jug, preferably Italian.
Use any leftover shower water to flush the toilet. Remember, only flush when absolutely necessary. Hang a rustic wood-burnt sign in a prominent location in the bathroom that says: "If it's yellow let it mellow." It will make it feel like you're at the cottage. Staycation! If there is any remaining shower or bath water, use it to boil eggs or pasta. Reserve the strained water, let cool and put into the dog bowl.
Collect the inevitably resulting dog vomit and strain the liquid out of it. Pour it into the cat bowl.
In other tips:
Place a gold brick or a milk carton full of stones inside the toilet tank to displace water and reduce the amount used with each flush. Get used to your business not all going down. Like your yellow lawn, it will be a signal to visitors that you are taking the water restrictions seriously. Wear it like a badge of honour.
Vacuum dishes instead of washing them.
Collect the morning dew from the leaves of your yellowing hostas. Carefully snap the stems and drip the dew into the mouths of your sleeping children. They will wake up less thirsty.
Spend a few moments thinking deeply about all of your childhood disappointments and collect the tears from your own face. Tell any adult children who may still be living at home what a disappointment they have been to you, then do the same. For younger children, make extravagant promises – a trip to Disneyland, a new bicycle, an Xbox – then immediately break those promises, laugh, and ask them what they were even thinking. Delicately collect the tears from their cheeks. Use tears to water more saline-tolerant plants.
Avoid brushing your teeth. If you must brush, wet brush using liquid from cat bowl – the cat isn't coming back anyway. Rinse your mouth out with milk.
Make an Israeli friend who will help you design and construct a backyard desalination plant. The country is 60-per-cent desert – they know what they're doing.
Consider shutting down your basement marijuana grow-op until the restrictions are lifted. Try to find another way to supplement your crushing mortgage payments.
Spread the message – have the word "conserve" tattooed onto your lower back or neck.
For laundry, locate a portion of a day-lighted urban creek that still has some water in it. Wash clothes by squatting in creek and bashing clothing against rocks. Invite friends to join you by telling them that it "builds community." Form a non-profit society and apply for a civic cultural grant.
Purchase several flats of delicious, refreshing, bottled-in-B.C. Nestle drinking water. Seriously, it's delicious.
Finally, a good rule of thumb may be that before you make any decisions regarding water use, pause and ask yourself this question: What would the Pope want Gregor Robertson to do?
I thought so.
Stephen Quinn is the host of On the Coast on CBC Radio One, 88.1 FM and 690 AM in Vancouver.