We live with a never-ending drought in California – especially in Santa Barbara where I was just hit by a whopping $906.15 water bill for December from my local Montecito Water District. The bill included a $480.00 penalty, a $144.90 “surcharge” and a $44.59 “meter service charge.” The charge for the actual water used was $236.66. I have no idea why I had a higher reading on the meter last month. I’m guessing that the gardener may have left my low-flow sprinklers running – but that is just a guess.

I might try appealing the bill, but I’m allowed to appeal only the $480.00 penalty portion of the bill and the water district charges a non-refundable fee of over $200.00 to appeal a penalty (they tell me my appeal would be rejected because I can’t explain the high meter reading).

In “drought stricken” California we live with the random threat of crazy water bills bloated by penalties, along with our “gold is the new green” lawns. No amount of rain seems to impact the drought perception. Our local reservoir, Lake Cachuma, remains at alarmingly low levels compared to other lakes because it isn’t much of a lake; it is sustained with deliveries of water from the California state water system, which have been curtailed because of the drought. Other, better planned California reservoirs have been overflowing from the recent storms. As much as I hate to say it, I have to agree with Donald Trump that the California drought is more a matter of poor planning and poor priorities.

Nothing will turn a liberal cartoonist into a conservative like receiving a $906.15 water bill when the whole state is flooded.