California residents have reacted to the state’s increasingly draconian water cutbacks with the well-known “whatever” spirit.
SACRAMENTO—If California flew a state flag that truly represented its popular culture, it’s possible we’d have not the Bear Flag, but a guy shrugging his shoulders and the word “Quicquid”—Latin for the state’s unofficial motto, “Whatever.”
California residents have reacted to the state’s increasingly draconian water cutbacks with the well-known “whatever” spirit. They’ve significantly exceeded Gov. Jerry Brown’s water-conservation goals and tolerated rising water prices without taking to the streets in protest.
But the state’s ongoing water wars did, for a short time, lead to some civil disobedience, even though it was barely mentioned in the media. As local TV news stations focused on browning lawns and Brown’s press conferences—the most famous of them beamed from a spot in the Sierra Nevada mountain range that ought to be covered in snow—a group of feisty rural water officials was resisting state and federal orders to deploy water for fish rather than people. The local officials had angry farm customers at their backs, but the resistance didn’t seem to get the notice of the governor or last more than a few hours.