Thursday, November 24, 2016

water conservation in stages

I suppose many might think of water conservation as saving the mussels.  That is important.  I'm onto people all the time about the importance of riparian borders.  But for us it just means using less water.

We lived through the drought, I forget now which years that was but it was bad with that second year just nobody having any hay and our spring completely stopped running at all by the end.  This one started during the normal dry time of September/October.  Boy the leaves really hung on this year, never bright but beautifully muted and still falling in todays rather harsh wind. I don't ever remember having this sort of wild fires before though, like California except not so many houses threatened, and smoke in the air to where you can't even see the mountains.  But so far the springs have not stopped running, just slowed down.

For a good while we were on what I'll call level one water conservation:  when it's yellow, let it mellow.  And when we can, bathe in the creek (and until it was cold, most of the time we "can").  But eventually with no rain two things happened:  it got too cold to bathe in the creek and the water level went down in the cistern.  Not that we were bathing, but we were still flushing when it was brown, and using it for animal water.  And washing clothes only after checking that the cistern was full. 

So at that point we started hauling water up from the creek.  The front creek.  The one that runs by people, and some questionable environmental hazards associated with those people, before it gets here.  So we didn't want to put it in the cistern and use it from there.  We'd done that in the last drought, but from a different creek that doesn't run by people.  But we don't have that pumped fixed up just now.  We could get it fixed up, but it isn't just now.  And the back creek is clean but no good way to get it up here.  The front creek, we can park the truck on the bridge and fill barrels in short order.  So there are four small barrels of water about half full on our porch.  That's maybe 70 gallons of water total out there, but we actually haul maybe about 50 about once a week.

That water is used to water rabbits and chickens and cats and dogs, and to wash dishes.  And dish rinse water (mostly) is caught in a pot to use for flush water, and also hand washing water is caught and saved for that.  It is still flushed on the basis of, when it's yellow, let it mellow.  I've been taking bulk clothes in about once a week and washing in town, bringing home to hang to dry.  One washer full (albeit one of the bigger ones).  We could use the creek water to wash clothes but seeing as how it would take me a couple hours to help with that here, or a half hour in town, and I'm using that time to ride horses, I'm good with that.  With just that much more conservation, the cistern has filled back up, and sometimes we can catch a quick shower, quickly wash the hair.  It is amazing how clean you can stay with spit baths except for hair.

Modern people bathe way too much, and we already didn't bathe that much.  I remember one time being on some crunchy woman's blog (wonder if she's still blogging?  Most homesteading books are about people who fail doing it, and most people who pretend to be concerned about the environment find that when they are inconvenienced, they aren't actually that concerned) and her doing a survey about how many times people showered -- a DAY.  How many times A DAY.  And she was all about recycle this and that, buy this green thing or that green thing.  My sensibilities were quite frankly shocked that people showered every single day even, much less multiple times per day.  When we have plenty of water, unless something stark happens to us, I'm sure we only bathe twice a week each.  So once a week doesn't seem like a big deal to us.  We just try to spread it out, and we check the cistern first, and we catch the water and use it to flush.

At the same time, I've laughed at the move to water saving toilets.  Using less water day to day when not in a drought means nothing here.  If we have plenty of water, we have plenty of water.  Our use of it simply slows its journey to the sea.  It isn't used up.  We aren't using an aquifer down.  It isn't being processed and purified and poisoned and pumped.  Not here.

The drought could certainly still get worse.  I sorely hope that it doesn't.  But you know in changing conditions, you change your behavior.  You deal.

It is supposed to rain a little tiny bit this morning, Thanksgiving.  I hope it is enough to put the fires out.


Wendy said...

The drought was pretty bad up here. A lot of people's wells dried up ... and then, in some places they blamed it on Nestle pumping water - which wasn't the cause, but having a multi-national company putting good water in plastic bottles isn't okay anyway ... but that's another story.

We didn't lose water here at my house, because we're on city water, and I probably don't ever have to really conserve, but since I have to pay for it, we do.

Except I do take a shower every day. It's a habit I started as a suburban kid, which I've never outgrown. Probably why my skin is so dry during the winter ;).

CG said...

I think being on municipal water is one of the best reasons to conserve all the time, low flow everything. That's not our circumstance. We never totally lost flow tho which is good. Ditch that daily shower and see what happens!