Spending every afternoon in a swimming pool gives one a poor vantage point to criticize use of water, but Palm Springs’ 540 gallons per person per day is truly impressive. Despite its desert location this is a green place. Not green because of its environmental credentials. While over 3000 turbines of San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm are an inspiring and a bit scary sight, Palm Springs is green in the original meaning of the word: green as trees, grass, golf courses and - obviously - palms. Which are no longer confined to occasional oases fed by natural springs.
Countless backyard pools dot the streets and gated communities decorate their gates with fountains and their walls with strips of grass watered by rotating underground sprinklers that routinely soak the pavement as well. It takes guts to display this careless watery abandon, with which denizens of Palm Springs defy the arid reality.
One has to admire their ingenuity in pursuing water. When the first farmers came to Palm Springs, they drew water from artesian wells. They were so successful that the water table dropped and water stopped flowing. But they were undeterred and brought water from the Colorado River to recharge the aquifer.
And now they can sustain not just 125 golf courses in the area. They create artificial oases replete palms on every street corner. They provide misters around restaurant patios to spray patrons and especially passerbys.
Resourceful residents of Palm Springs don’t fall for stinginess of the conservation ideology. The mayor tells people to abandon desert-style landscaping for greener alternative: You can’t have all dirt and cactus. In my opinion, Palm Springs isn’t lush enough. This quote may be 20 years old but judging by the greenery on major thoroughfares locals continue to heed it with vengeance. More recently water officials while dealing with ground sinking caused by pumping water out of aquifer proudly declare: our goal is to not have water be a constraint to growth. Because growth, especially when it comes to golf, is what counts.