To: Petition to California Parks Director Lisa Mangat and State Legislators
Restore California Public Beach Showers Now!
I urge California State Parks Director Lisa Mangat to stop using the drought as an excuse to cut the important public service of beach showers for millions of citizens. This draconian measure will likely cause 100 million extra gallons of water to be wasted because many of the 15 million annual park visitors who had previously taken short beach showers will now go home to take much longer showers. This ill-conceived, anti-public service move will not even save the minuscule amount of water it targets.
Why is this important?
As further detailed in the SonomaIndependent.org, well before the implementation of the July 15, 2015 shutdown of showers at 44 State beaches, California State Parks had already met Governor’s agency-wide mandate for a one-time 25% reduction in water usage. With beach showers using just 4% of the 446 million gallons of water that California State Parks now consumes, there was absolutely no necessity to remove, for the first time in history, a public service that has improved hygiene and served millions of beach visitors for generations.
Most Californians agree that we need to allocate water resources more wisely. This is especially true for agribusiness, which consumes 80% of all water used in the state. The state’s almond export crop by itself uses about 35,000 times more water than the beach shower shutdown purportedly saves.
Nothing could be more contrary to the public interest than using the drought as an excuse to reduce public water services, like beach showers, campground wash stations, restrooms, and fountains. These services benefit millions while using relatively minuscule quantities of water.
Incredibly, the Parks decision to shut down our showers will likely cause more water to be used. That’s because each beach shower uses just 1.2 gallons (people stay in cold water for shorter times), while the average American shower at home uses 17 gallons of water. If just half of the annual state park beachgoers had previously showered at the beach, and not taken additional showers, are now forced to shower at their home or hotel, then this shutdown will waste more than 100 million gallons of water each year!
The misguided decision to shut the tap at beach showers across the state was made without a single public hearing, or independent analysis, of how it would impact water usage, or the public. It was made by Lisa Mangat, a recently appointed State Parks Commissioner who came from the State’s Finance agency without any experience in public parks or public services.
Closing beach showers may also be a trial water balloon to use the drought as an excuse to further cut important services to the public. State park officials have said that they will not rule out further water cutbacks for sinks, bathrooms and pay toilets in state campgrounds and parks, or the closing of some parks all together.
The water savings amount targeted by the beach shower shutdown is a minuscule drop in the bucket—yet this move directly affects more people than any specific water savings policy made to date by the State of California. The 18 million gallons allegedly saved by cutting beach shower service to 15 million beach visitors annually is the equivalent water usage as:
• Two months of watering of a single golf course. California has 900 golf courses.
• Two months watering of a single almond farm. California has 6,500 almond farms and exports more than 75% of the almonds produced.
• About one day’s watering of state highways. California’s State Highway agency uses 11 more water than all state parks.
On behalf of California’s park users, we urge Governor Brown and our state legislators to pressure Parks Director Mangat to reopen our state beach showers. In coping with this drought, we want to reduce water guzzlers—not public services.