Essentially Ashland: By Lance Pugh — By now you have most probably heard the latest broadside of water conservation measures being mandated.

By now you have most probably heard the latest broadside of water conservation measures being mandated. While a month ago no one seemed capable of anticipating a water shortage, we now have warning to cut back on water consumption under penalty of a 400 percent surcharge if a household floats over the limit.

Rumor has it that Tom Ridge has been engaged to help us conform to this latest shortage of an essential ingredient of life. I have been able to get a color copy of his strategy and will share it with you, if you promise to let all your landscaping die and limit your water drinking to 8 ounces of water per day. Now that you have agreed, I will share what I learned from Mr. Ridge's advice, which we obtained for a mere $50,000 consulting fee, which will be paid for with water consumption fines.

The real help he offers us is the implementation of a color-coded warning system to alert us all to the dangers present. It seems to resemble some other scheme he had, but I have forgotten the context and details. The water advisory warnings will be as follows:

Green (low-risk) — A distant descendant of Noah is just finishing outfitting the Ashland Ark. Be prepared for cloudbursts and water cresting Holser Dam, as the reservoir tops off. This, of course, sets off the dam sirens that scream along Ashland Creek, sounding like a barge-load of banshees as we prepare for a major flood. You may now water your yard, but not too much, as you do not need to as sheets of rain wash small cars and the inattentive downstream, with Gold Beach being the final destination. The possibility that the water treatment plant will suffer some damage in the deep upstream canyon means that water will be unavailable throughout the city except by tanker truck, as we lacked the wisdom to hook up to the Talent/Ashland/Phoenix (TAP) emergency water line, leaving us high and very dry. Bathing will be frowned upon.

Blue (guarded-risk) — The flood is over, but a drought could be at hand, so keep a keen eye out for neighborhood scofflaws who might, with a twist of the wrist on a hose bib, jeopardize the whole town. Report them to the authorities and collect a reward, which is reported to be a 5 percent discount on drip irrigation and pop-up sprinklers that will allow you to water at 2 a.m., while you sleep soundly as you remember the Ark hydroplaning downstream.

Yellow (elevated-risk) — Dogs begin to pant, ducks have trouble flying and everyone calls in sick. Call your doctor and then order xeriscape landscaping and head to the cistern. The Fremen of Arrakas are on the prowl. Keep an eye open for worms and spice. Order a Fremen stillsuit for member of the family and keep them handy. You may shower by plugging up the drain and using, at most, 1 quart of water. Cast modesty aside, as there will be surprise inspections.

Orange (high-risk) — Fill the bathtub full of water to flush the toilet and patrol the neighborhood for any signs of plant life. Drink water from a shot glass and eschew the light of day. Curtail exercise and pre-pay parking tickets. Glad you sprung for the stillsuits, are you not? Travel only at night.

Red (severe-risk) — Bathe with moisturized towelettes, slow down your metabolism with beta blockers, look askance at the goldfish and videotape the neighborhood. Hire a rainmaker and attend water prayer meetings held in large tents. Prepay your water bill and welcome home searches for stashes of bottled water, which will be deemed contraband. If all else fails, go to Talent, which is hooked up to the TAP, and take a long, hot shower.

This might seem a little extreme, but Tom Ridge did keep us safe from swarms of Jihadists surging across the country like a mega-tsunami and did it without too much fear, intimidation and armed authorities. The only thing he forgot to mention was, if a fire broke out and we did not have any water, we would have to rename the town Ash-land.

Lance@journalist.com was last seen planting cactus and blowing sand about to make his yard look like a Dune.