<b>Conservation penalties</b>

EDITOR: Gov. Jerry Brown asks us not to flush, calling to mind the 1970s mantra, "If it's yellow . . ." ("Brown: Shorter showers, fewer flushes," Friday). I remember those times. We didn't flush. We captured water to use in toilets. Our lawns died. We took Navy showers. We didn't wash our cars. Then, as a reward for our conscientiousness, the water district raised rates. My naive, civic-minded mother was shocked.

History shows that every time there is a drought, people are asked to conserve. When they do, they're invariably rewarded with higher water rates, as districts whine that they can't cover operational expenses.

This time around, I'm not feeling the love. The recession isn't over in our household. We're doing our part to conserve, but I resent knowing I'm going to be punished for it.

As an added incentive to encourage conservation, I have written the governor urging him to consider issuing an executive order forbidding water districts from raising rates until the drought is officially over.

Water districts should share the burden. They should have cash reserves to cover operational expenses. If they don't, the state should lend them the money at interest rates high enough to encourage them to responsibly manage their cash reserves to prepare for future droughts.