Pray for Rain

This weekend I visited my home town, Wichita Falls, TX. The city that has the Texas Legislature talking about the future of water in Texas. Unless the local weather patterns change drastically from the past several years, Wichita Falls will likely be out of water at the end of the year.

In my visit I got a little taste of the measures they are taking to conserve water and lower usage. The city has declared Stage 2 drought conditions, which means that residents can water their lawns only one day per week, from midnight to sunrise. Residents, however, have found a way around this. As I walked through my parents neighborhood I realized why there were lush green lawns across town. While it is easy to get caught watering your lawn with a big sprinkler display, if you lay soaker-hoses throughout your lawn you can water without attracting attention to yourself. After all, they do have the right to water their turf grass, and who is going to tell them otherwise?

The city has also decided to allow the local water park, Castaway Cove, to open for business in two weeks, running a wave pool, lazy river, slides and other pools and rides. My grandfather told me he is adding half an inch to an inch a day to keep his small residential pool full (which has also not been stopped by the city). I cannot even imagine how much water will be lost to evaporation at the water park.

“So,” you might be asking, “If the city and residents aren’t taking measure to slow their loss of water, what is their plan?” Well… they’re going to let God figure that out. In lawns across the city, small blue yard signs are posted, reading, “Pray for Rain,” referencing 1 Thessalonians 5:17: Pray without ceasing.

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To increase the irony even further, the yards with these signs were, almost without fail, among the greenest yards in their neighborhoods. “Pray for Rain!” Because I’m sure as hell not going to stop watering my lawn!

Businesses are getting in on the action, as well. Perm-O-Green, a yard service company, has continued to fertilize customer’s yards on normal schedules, without consultation with customers beforehand. Once a yard has been fertilized, if it is not watered you can be sure that the grass will not just remain dormant, but actually die. But don’t worry, they have a plan, too:

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It’s not a different plan, but obviously they aren’t too worried about coming up with creative solutions.

So this is the plan. To act like nothing is happening. To wait for sky-daddy to come to the rescue. But when that doesn’t work, it is the rest of Texas that will be making sacrifices to ensure the safety and continuance of Wichita Falls. It is our water that we will find a way to get to them, and it is our tax dollars that will be used to do so.

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8 thoughts on “Pray for Rain

  1. This kind of thing just leaves me speechless. I think humanity is doomed because we have not evolved to deal with long term problems. Thanks for the post!

  2. I would suggest you get your facts straight before you post. Wichita Falls is currently in Stage 3 water restrictions, not Stage 2. The city’s website provides information on this at http://www.wichitafallstx.gov/?NID=1256 Many residents choose to water from private wells dug on their property, which does not affect lake levels. Any residents who are watering outside the allotted times should be reported to the Wichita Falls Police Department. As for Castaway Cove water park, the following PDF answers questions about the park’s water usage: http://www.wichitafallstx.gov/DocumentCenter/View/20379‎ Wichita Falls is not the only city in Texas facing a drought emergency, nor is it the only city projected to run out of water in the near future. To mitigate the effects of the drought, the City of Wichita Falls is currently working with the TCEQ to become the first city in Texas to recycle its effluent water back into the system by early 2014, water that would otherwise be lost to the Wichita and Red Rivers, finally emptying into the Mississippi and Gulf of Mexico. The estimated $9 million for this project will not be paid by the taxpayers of Texas. It will be paid by increased rates on water customers of the City of Wichita Falls. I’m of the opinion that praying does exactly nothing to put more water in the lakes. However, as a citizen of Wichita Falls and a possible future climate refugee, I think that praying for rain can’t hurt. If and when the city reaches Stage 4 drought conditions, all outdoor watering will cease. A lot of lawns in town are greener than they otherwise would be right now because of recent rain from the same storm systems that went on to produce all those tornadoes in Oklahoma. The vast majority of citizens are really doing all they can to reduce their water usage at this stage of the drought. You make it sound as if the city and residents are doing nothing but putting our heads in the sand and praying to a sky-daddy. I can assure you that we are doing everything feasible to reduce water consumption. For any further issues you may have with the City of Wichita Falls’ water usage, I direct you and your readers to the City of Wichita Falls Public Works Department http://tx-wichitafalls2.civicplus.com/index.aspx?NID=19

  3. They pray for rain and at the same time the family of the girl who is having an outdoor wedding this weekend prays for no rain. Who’s prayers god answers depends on the weather forecast for the region. LOL I sure hope the christians don’t start sacrificing people again to appease their obviously angry sky ghost.

  4. I love that the Perm-o-green sign is over a car wash.

  5. I live in Wichita Falls and know plenty of people who are doing the right thing in this situation, did you talk to the ones who didn’t have the signs, or perhaps with dead grass? (which is over 80% of the community) Many are saving their water from their showers to water their trees in order to save them. We have also heard that they are considering recycling our waste water, the majority of the locals are trying to do the right thing, maybe you should consider that before you post something like this, ye of little faith.

  6. We are in stage 3. Watering one day a week, mostly to keep our trees alive and foundations from crumbling. People are using used shower water and dishwashing water to supplement our watering our trees. We will be in stage 4 before the summer is over. That means no outside watering period! What kind of catastrophe will there be if all our trees die. Yes, we are in a water emergency, but we can’t control Mother Nature! Most of Wichita Falls is in compliance.

  7. It’s nice we don’t have to have all the answers to everything in life. I’m 55 and Sky Daddy has ALWAYS taken care of me… and will continue to. But when you rely only upon yourself; well, then that’s all you have!

  8. Jason,

    I really appreciate your response and I thank you for providing additional information. I am sorry I got the number wrong on the water restrictions level, but I believe my description of the level was correct. What I can’t understand is a city less than a year away from being out of water that isn’t on Stage Four water restrictions. It should also be noted that my visit to Wichita Falls was before the storms that brought tornadoes to Oklahoma. When I visited it had not rained in about a month, so any lawns that were green were that way because of watering.

    My original goal with this post was to not write a treatise on water usage in Wichita Falls, but to express frustration at a portion of the population (which I, admittedly, generalized in my original post onto the entire town) for giving up on a situation that is still very much in their ability to address, and employing a tactic that admits current failure and will only insure further failure: prayer.

    While it is likely that the people I talked to while in Wichita Falls do not represent an accurate picture of the city as a whole, I did grow up in this city and understand the attitudes of the citizens and these ideas represent a considerable portion of the population. Most of the people I talked to about the drought and water restrictions were just mad at the city for keeping them from watering their lawns. They do not understand the serious situation they face. I place part of this fault on the city for its under-addressing of this situation, which has led a large portion of the citizens of Wichita Falls to think this problem isn’t all that bad and that it can be solved by recycling waste water. However, I think there is a much more dangerous culprit here that is keeping people from seeing the seriousness of the situation. That culprit, of which the “Pray for Rain” signs are only a symptom, is the natural propensity of humans to avoid change, which is being protected here in the guise of religious faith. “No need to change, Jesus will take care of it.”

    I basically grew up in First Baptist Church in Wichita Falls. I was at church every time the doors were open and the people there, while I agreed with them less and less as I grew up and broadened my understanding of the world, were my family. I know these people and the religious community in Wichita Falls. The fundamentalist evangelical mindset and lifestyle that pervades Wichita Falls is one that does not deal with reality very well. Religious faith fundamentally alienates one from reality, by demanding that one believe something without evidence and sometimes in the face of evidence to the contrary. When one possesses a world-view in which this world is just the current, evil state of existence, which is watched over by a “Heavenly Father” and terrorized by a devil, one is sheltered from harsh truths of our existence by pushing off the responsibility for our situation onto these higher powers. And I understand it. Life is hard. To be able to say, “I put this problem in the hands of Jesus” lifts a huge burden that can weigh a person down. But it isn’t reality.

    The mindset among which I grew up in the religious communities in Wichita Falls (beyond just First Baptist Church) was one that says, “If we just have enough faith, God will (blank).” This is dangerous in so many ways. It fundamentally puts one in a mindset that limits their ability to realize to what extent they are able to impact their own lives and the world around them. In this situation it limits the extent to which people realize how something as simple as a lawn can drain the city of its much needed resources. It also limits their ability to see how making changes to their lives will positively impact their situation. Having religious faith is the best way I know to make one small minded, because the faith-position is one of diminution to the person exercising that faith. It literally says, “I am small and cannot affect change, but this power above me can.” But if we want to see positive change, especially in this situation, the faith position must be rejected and replaced with a mindset that realizes the power that we posses as creative, problem solving creatures, for the betterment of the world around us, and for harm as well.

    In case you doubt the ability of religious faith to stand in the way of facing reality and making positive change, let’s look at this very example, the Pray for Rain signage campaign. Here we have a considerable portion of the population that when faced with the need to act to respond to a situation instead use their time and resources to create signs and distribute them around town encouraging people to use their time on a useless activity. So, yes, praying for rain does hurt. The time and resources that have gone into creating and distributing the signs could have been spent on an effort to educate people about how to face the reality of this situation, and the time spent in prayer could have been spent taking action on a personal level to reduce ones impact on the water usage in the city.

    I agree that my original post generalized one problematic attempt (or, non-attempt) to solve the water shortage problem onto the entire city. However, Wichita Falls has a long way to go to change the underlying cultural problems that are keeping it from properly addressing this situation. I hope that you are involved in the city to help people realize the reality of their situation.

    Clifton Stuckey

    P.S. Are you the Jason York that graduated from Rider in 1999? If so, I remember you, we were in the same class.

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