Water issues

Living in our little rural community in the mountains, we don’t have many choices for over the air radio stations, the mountains block most if not all of any potential signals we might receive, in fact for us, our only choice is Marfa Public Radio, it’s in the next town over and the only reason we can receive the signal is they installed a repeater tower on the edge of our neighborhood a few years ago.

Over the weekend I heard a story about California’s drought and folk running out of water, their wells are going dry and many in those communities, especially in the outlying areas are not on city water services. They are receiving 2500 gallon water tanks to get them through this terrible time. What really caught my attention though was the statement that this amount of water would last an average family 2 weeks, 2 WEEKS! I was shocked to hear that stat, it is a testament to how much water is apparently wasted by the people in their ordinary day to day usage.

One guy they interviewed stated that his well would run dry after 15 minutes, he was watering his lawn when he discovered this, well I’d say if you only have 15 minutes of water at a time, stop watering your lawn, it seems like a no brainer to me.

We live in a desert climate here in far west Texas, we have a rainy season which we are in now, it lasts a few months, we get random rain the rest of the year but it’s not much. Some of the people in my neighborhood have wells, but the vast majority of the people out here use tanks and haul their water. Most of us use a 1550 gallon water tank, one single tank, a few have 2 or more tanks, but most have just one. On average, those tanks are filled about once a month, our local water delivery guy has an 1100 gallon tank on his truck, so the tanks aren’t filled 100%, they try to not let their tank get down to empty before calling for a refill, so you could say that the average family out here uses about 1000 gallons per month (+/-).

What is the difference here? Are we going without to save water? I’d say no, what we are doing is living with the amount of water we have, we don’t water lawns, we don’t take long showers, many of us don’t take daily showers, we don’t leave the water running when we aren’t using it, we stop leaks as soon as possible after discovering them, some of us have composting toilets so we aren’t flushing water down the toilet. Many of us use our water more than once, ie we have grey water systems that at the very least water trees, gardens and other plants.

We (out here) are not in a water shortage, yet we live in a frugal manner with water, it just comes natural when you rely on a set amount of water each month and have to pay for someone to haul your water or have to haul it yourself. It’s simply a mindset, one that I suspect these poor folk in California will quickly get once they realize they are truly on a limited amount of water.

Some of my neighbors who have wells do not have much water flow, so they installed a tank or two, they have timers on their well that pump water for a set amount of time into the tank, then shuts off for a set amount of time, one neighbor in particular, his well can only pump for 15 minutes, then it has to rest for 24 hours, he has 3 people in his family, so he has a tank and a timer that pumps only 15 minutes every 24 hours, his tank eventually fills up and that’s what they live on. They do just fine in this situation, I’d say that was one of the more extreme cases out here, most other folk with wells don’t have such restrictions, but many of them still have at least one or more water tanks they keep filled just in case something happens to the water, the pump or even if the power goes off and they can’t use their well right then.

It’s possible to live with less water, and not have to “do without” to live that way, we do it with no problems or hardships, I did a search for average water usage on Google and this is what came up
The average American family of four uses 400 gallons of water per day. On average, approximately 70 percent of that water is used indoors, with the bathroom being the largest consumer (a toilet alone can use 27 percent!).
That means that an average person in the USA is using 100 gallons of water per day, that is unthinkable for us.

I also understand the government is stepping in and fining people for taking “long showers” and such, I don’t like that either, I don’t think the government should have that much say in our day to day life. How about giving incentives for using less water instead waiting until there is a crisis and punishing people for using too much water?

Here is that PBS story if you wish to listen.