Tag Archive for: water

Ahh, the irony. Too much water means that I can’t use any. The rain has been coming down for days, forcing motorists to push their wipers to the limit and bus riders to wait a few feet back from the stops to avoid the deluge coming from the streets whenever a car goes by.

3:00 AM Monday morning: Lola appears at my bedside, “Mama, what is that loud buzzing noise?” Oh, crap. Her bedroom is directly above the septic alarm. The backyard has absorbed as much rain as it can and the septic holding tank can’t push any water off into the drainfield/pond. Bubba slides out from between the flannel sheets, pushes his feet into his slippers and pads outside in his underwear to flip the switch that shuts the screaming alarm off.
6:15 AM Monday morning. Reality hits us all. No showers. No dishwasher. No washing machine. No flushing toilets. We can’t afford to put any more water into the system. Bubba’s on his way to the airport for a business trip, so he jumps through the shower as quickly as he can, but the rest of us pull our hair up into ponytails or under caps and get dressed.
With my low-flow toilets, front-load washing machine and low water usage dishwasher, I generally think of myself as being pretty conscious of the water I use, but this puts a new spin on things. At least once a year I find myself in this situation and am reminded that too much water in the yard means no water for me. The three minutes it takes to get the water in the sink warm enough to hand wash something is an absolute no-go. Instead, I pour water into the teapot and warm it up to wash the thermoses out for the girls’ lunches. I am more careful with what I touch so that I don’t need to wash my hands every few minutes.
Just getting through a morning having to think about every task in terms of whether or not it will add water to the septic tank taxes my brain. And it makes me feel incredibly grateful to not live in a place where this is a daily chore. By this time next week, I will be able to flush toilets with wild abandon and Eve will dawdle in the shower for an extra few minutes of warmth. We will have a houseful of guests for Christmas and I won’t follow them around reminding them to turn the water off when they’re brushing their teeth like I do with my kids.
For now, there are puddles of standing water in the yard that the dog is enjoying immensely and I’m going on two days without doing a load of laundry (not exactly bugging me, I must say). Throughout the day I find myself wondering how many new ways I can find to cut our water usage and hoping they will stick with us all long after the septic tank is back in working order.

but hopefully not a dollar short…

On a typical day at my house growing up in the 1970s I’m certain we used gallons and gallons of water we didn’t need to use. All five of us showering, flushing high flow toilets, watering a pristine lawn (one of my father’s obsessions), washing the family cars every Saturday morning, boiling eggs and pouring the cooking water down the drain…I could go on but already I’m getting a stomach ache thinking about it.

Even though I’m older and wiser now, I’m certain there are things I could still be doing to reduce my water consumption even more, but I am eternally grateful that I know what I know. That I don’t take this precious resource for granted. I have been lucky to travel to other countries and realize first hand how my experience of having water whenever I want it is an anomaly. A luxury. Decadent.
Kathryn Grace reminded me that it is going to take the efforts of those of us who do have access to this precious resource in order to bring it to everyone. I know that the founders of our country didn’t specifically note water as a basic human right (truth, justice, pursuit of happiness…), but I’m certain it’s on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and I’m not sure how to pursue happiness without being free of disease. Please visit Kathryn’s blog and see how you can help. Even though yesterday was technically Blog Action Day for this issue, I’m pretty sure that they won’t mind if you sign the petition a day late. Or start your own efforts, however modest, a day late.

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