Posts Tagged 'water'

Water, water, everywhere

I didn’t get a chance to watch all of Obama’s press conference on Wednesday.  Too busy wrestling with our well booster pump, visiting Dr. Thacher for our annual inspection, and soaking up the beautiful Ojai spring wonderland.

Our booster pump went south about ten days ago.  For the uninitiated, a booster pump forces water up the hill to storage tanks where it is eventually gravity fed back down to our house.  Since water has yet to learn how to run uphill, once your storage tanks empty you’re done, fini, over, dry.

When I tell people that we get our water from a well, their first reaction is “Wow, lucky for you that you don’t have to pay those rates charged by Casitas Water.”  Then, I recite the litany of costs associated with owning a well and they quickly move to a new subject.  Booster pumps are the least of it. 

Ralph has been struggling with the pump for over a week.  Dragging it from its cozy home, analyzing why it failed, looking for replacement parts (which aren’t available) and finally, admitting failure, ordering a new pump from Fresno.  Now we wait patiently for the UPS man to arrive with reinforcements.

We’ve got this high tech gizmo that tells us how much water is left in the storage tanks.  It’s in our laundry room and I pass it twenty times a day.  My head snaps 45 degrees to catch a glimpse of the digital readout every time I walk by that green eyed monster.  It’s a habit I can’t break.  Seven feet of water in the tank.  Then six, five…   During the day I mentally calculate the remaining available water.  “Let’s see, one foot of water in an 8 foot tank holding 5,000 gallons equals about 600 gallons per foot.  There are three tanks.  But one-third of the tanks is reserved for firefighting.”  My head spins.  I wonder when Ralph will arrive with the new pump.

Even when the well behaves, we don’t take water for granted.  I regularly wonder if/when the well will give up its last drop.  I review the consequences of living in a waterless environment.  I see sprinklers caressing the grapevines over at Dwayne’s ranch.  I think about county officials urging us to stop flushing toilets…while 80% of California’s water is guzzled by agriculture.  I wonder why we need strawberries that look great but taste like the Ojai Valley News.  I think about life without oranges, avocados, and, god forbid, wine.  I muse about Kevin Costner’s Water World and that lonely tomato plant.

We haven’t turned on the irrigation for almost two weeks.  A lifetime.  The olive trees seem happy.  But you never know with those guys.  They can look beautiful but then refuse to bloom or set olives.  Not enough water?  And even if they do, the fruit fly lurks. Our tiny, guilt ridden, patch of lawn hangs in there.  Wonder if we need it.  I think about crushed aggregate, mulch, astroturf…ugh.

Funny how being being cut off from something that’s always been there makes you sit up and pay attention.  I begin to understand why folks go to war over water rights.  Two hundred and sixty three rivers either cross or demarcate international political boundaries, in addition to countless aquifers.  According to the Atlas of International Freshwater Agreement, 90 percent of countries in the world must share water basins with at least one or two other states. Major conflicts such as Darfur have been connected to water shortages, and lack of access to clean water.  Israel and Jordan took time off from calling each other names to forge an agreement over the Sea of Galilee. Oil is a minor irritant compared to drinking water.

Much of the world is allocated the grand total of 2.5 gallons of water a day.  As usual, the United States gulps more than its fair share at 1,430 gallons per day.  But don’t feel overly guilty.  Personal consumption is only about 100 gallons of that amount…and most of it is used outdoors.  We turn the spigot on and wait for a gusher to emerge.  What if it just drips…slowly?

I’m thirsty.



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