Water conservation is something I am always thinking about.
We live where there is no city water. Not yet anyways. We have a well. A well that we share with 3 other families. A well that sits on my property.
Since we moved in 10 weeks ago, we have 4 water emergencies. First we ran out of water, which we discovered around 8 am on a Sunday morning. We have a 3500 gallon storage tank, but the way the pump was set it wasn't keeping up with the demand of a new family. So we had to have water brought in. Not a bad deal money wise, but it stirs up the sand at the bottom of the storage tank, and for awhile all the water in the house is brown. Livable, but brown. Not something you'd want to do your laundry in.
One night when I was making tomorrow mornings coffee, I turned on the tap to fill the coffee pot, and no water. We, being city folk and unfamiliar with the workings of a well pump, have to call the "well guy", at 10:30 at night. Fortunately, our "well guy" is just that, and he answers his cell phone at night. He walks my husband through a couple of trouble shooting "try-its", and discover that it's the booster pump a second pump, the first being the one that pulls the water out of the ground, the second on pushes the water to the houses from the storage tank. Apparently bugs like to crawl up in between the connectors that fire the booster pump, and die. Then their little shells block the connection from happening and tada! We have no water. Thirty minutes, a nail file and some bugs spray and tada! We have water again.
Then there was the Float Issue. This had been looked at as a possible problem with the pump was looked at when the first emergency happened. And about 4 weeks later became a problem that had again emptied the tank. The float is needed to gage how full the tank is, which lets the pump know what to do. Our float wasn't talking to our pump and our tank empties. Once the float was touched and caressed, it worked enough to put water into the tank and we survived. Luckily, this was discovered and fixed at about 10:30 at night, so the pump had all night to refill the tank, giving us plenty of water for the following morning.
We put in a drip irrigation system. The well did ok, keeping up with the new demand. Our neighbor did the same, only along with her new drip system she put in new plants and trees. I'm glad she did it, it will provide us both with more privacy. But it's another demand for our well to try and keep up with.
I've been checking the well two times a day, 5 am and 5 pm, when I go outside to feed the horses. It's become part of my routine. I had to overcome my fear of the well, opening a big lid and peering down into a dark hole that is filled with water. I know when it's doing ok, and I'm worried all day when I see it's low. I try to remain positive, telling myself that it was "half-full".
One morning the well was too low, so I called the neighbor. Between the two of us, we decided to call in another truck load of water so we wouldn't have to worry about it over the holiday weekend. The good thing was it gave me a chance to use my new horse fencing and gates, and see how the truck coming into my backyard worked. It did good, I was happy.
I am constantly thinking about how much water I use. I am always wondering how my neighbors are using their water. I get up in the morning and it starts with how I now brush my teeth. I used to turn the water on, water my toothbrush, put tooth paste on the brush and water that. Brush. Rinse. Rinse the brush, clean the sink. Now I put the paste on the brush, water the brush and turn the water off. I turn it back on, not at full blast, rinse and clean the sink. I think that if only everyone on our well brushed their teeth like me, how that could affect our water for the day.
Then there's the toilet. Shaving my legs in the shower; I now turn the water off to shave, using a cup to rinse my razor. The water I use for my horses. I check the irrigation system on a weekly basis to make sure it's working ok. I make sure each load of laundry is a full load. But I think the kitchen is the biggest user of it all.
I rinse my dishes differently. I wash my hands differently. I've got my family washing their hands by putting soap on their hands first, and rubbing it, then adding a little water to rinse. Not putting the water on full blast.
It's also got me thinking about how I store my food. Do I use my Tupperware, thereby not using a disposable product that adds to our landfill issues, or do I use the disposable product so that I'm not using something that has to be washed using more water.
Is it better to use the dishwasher, with a full load of course, or is it better to hand wash the dishes? How would I measure that? Should I attempt to gather shower water, to take it out to plants? I read in a question and answer message board somewhere on-line, someone asking if soapy shower water was ok to use to water plants. It's something I think about in the shower. During my 5 minute shower.
I've talked to people about putting in a little "reclamation" system of my own. With so much water rushing through my yard during our summer monsoon, I can't help but think about storing that water, saving that water. I know we're going to need it. Would having it mean putting less pressure on our pump to keep up with demand, or would keeping it affect our ground water supply, because if I have it in tanks, then it's not getting into the ground, and back into the water table. And just how long does it take for water you put on the ground to make it to the water table how does all that happen? Would putting in a system like that be smart? Cost effective? Maybe that's taking it too far?
Water conservation affects my everyday life. I know, I chose to do this, so this is something that I will have to live with. And I'm ok with that. Actually I'm grateful for the experience, the awakening if you will. I am now aware of water, and how much my life is effected when there is none. I wonder how much other people think about it how many other people think about it. And I wonder if more people were directly affected by the supply and availability of their daily water, would they work as hard as I am to conserve it? If more people had their own wells and less were hooked up to city water, would there be more conservation happening?
There definitely is in my house.