Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Not every "environmentalist" is a wacko

It's been a while since I mentioned this, but when we moved out here four years ago our area hadn't had enough rain in a couple of years. The people we bought our house from told us to be careful about watering gardens because we have a shallow well (it's about 40' deep and also known as a surface well, as opposed to a deep well -- the kind that's hundreds of feet deep and goes into the underground water in the bedrock).

When a contractor started putting up two houses close to ours a few months later, a visiting neighbor and longtime resident of this area said that he was worried about how many people were moving out to our county and drilling deep wells. He said that the water table was dropping and he was concerned about there simply not being enough. I thought it was a bit of an overreaction.

Then, a year later, our well went dry.

The next day, the level had come back up enough to reach the pump, but we instituted emergency rationing of water.

We also bought a truck load of water from a company in a nearby town, which resold city water they bought from various municipalities in our area. I've forgotten how much it was now -- something like 300 gallons for several cents a gallon. It filled our well, and it's never gone dry again for which I'm very thankful because the drought has gotten so bad that the cities here quit selling water a month or two after we bought.

It's been raining a lot this year -- almost back to normal as the natives tell us, but I've only let up a little on the water-rationing.

We never watered our grass, but since the well went dry we no longer water our gardens from the hose. Instead we use old water from the animals' drinking buckets and grey water from the house. We don't let the water run at the sink while brushing teeth or washing hands. We scrape plates into the chickens' scrap bucket instead of rinsing the dishes. We take quick showers (or "military" showers where you get wet, turn off the water, soap up, turn on the water and rinse). And guess what -- we don't flush the toilets after every use.

I've gotten so much in the habit of not wasting water that it freaks me out when I see people running the kitchen faucet full-blast while they slowly rinse dishes... one at a time... and place them... slowly... one by one... into... the... dishwasher...

And it saddens me to read about people wasting water on purpose just to spite the enviro-wackos, as the first commenter under in this post says he did.

People, clean water is a precious thing and not to be taken for granted.


  1. Kelly,

    Any thoughts on the kind of thinking that Doug Wilson advocates in this post?

  2. I remember that post and the followup comments -- it made me so spittin mad I couldn't write anything about it at the time.

    I have a problem with it on a number of levels. One is that while Wilson objects to the gov't controlling access to water he doesn't seem to object to corporations doing so.

    The second commenter to yesterday’s post, cls, makes an excellent point about the cost of water: if we didn’t have government subsidized city water in the first place people wouldn’t be using it like it’s a limitless resource.

    A second concern is the rather flippant notion that if an area runs out of clean water they can always make more out of something. It’s not like we’re talking about running out of whale oil and replacing it with electricity. It’s like talking about running out of food or air. Not having your own locally available source of water is disastrous, and I’m surprised he doesn’t know that from history.

    But then most of us are so used to buying every single thing we need that we don’t realize how very dependent we are on other people who are nearly all complete strangers, from employers to merchants to manufacturers. And we don’t realize how complicated the whole process is and how vulnerable it makes us to be dependent on such a long supply line for our very livelihoods.

    We’re like Napoleon marching on Moscow.

  3. I'm so glad you're wrote this. Living in the City makes it easy to forget many things relating to my stewardship of the earth.

    In fact, just the other day, I was rinsing the dishes (slowly...one-by-one...faucet on full blast). I managed to stop and give Joseph some more snack, check on my food cooking on the stove, and I might have even wiped down the counters - all the while keeping the water running. As I returned to rinsing, something that felt like a prick in the area of my conscience reminded me that Linda Mc describes what I was doing as "not properly washing dishes", since it wastes so much water.

    I decided, oh, what does it matter? There's plenty, and all it means is a slighly higher water bill. :/

    But I'll listen to my conscience, and try to continue being a good steward of the resources I have. For right now, it will be a purely principled sort of thing, as the reality of "running out" hasn't sunk in.

    Thank you, Mrs. Cumbee!

  4. I used to be just like that! When we lived in military housing my mother-in-law would say, "You won't use so much water when you have to pay for it," but even after we bought a house and had a water bill I kept on using it like I always had.

    It wasn't until we moved to San Angelo that I started thinking about it. I remember once a neighbor complaining about the restrictions and saying, "I'm paying for it, I should be able to use as much as I like."

    I thought (but was too shy to say), "We live IN A DESERT. You can't just use all the water you can pay for."

    And of course we moved from there to here, so the last eight years we've been living in drought or near-drought conditions. I think it really has sunk in.

    One thing we've done for our Missouri house is to install tankless water heating -- one in the bathroom/laundry area, and one under the kitchen sink. That way, even though we have a deep well out there, we won't have to run the water for a long time waiting for the hot water to arrive.

    I wish I could remember the numbers, but I read once that when you're carrying water into the house from a well or spring, people tend to use about three gallons per person per day. Having a pump in the house increases that a little. But having hot and cold running water increases usage something like ten times -- 30 or maybe 50 gallons per person per day. That's a LOT of water.

  5. I ought to point out that the irony of the whole government/corporate dichotomy is that corporations are themselves creatures of the state and wouldn't exist without their blessing and protection.

    I'd like to see Wilson address this issue. I know he says we don't have a truly free market, but I think as long as we have corporations (in this modern sense) we'll never have free markets.


What are your thoughts? I love to hear from you!