Originally posted on Multiply Jan. 11 2010
We are responsible for our own infrastructure out here. Just plugging in to municipal water and sewer is for suburban sissies!
The ridge where we live has issues with water. Many neighbors have spent a small fortune on drilling deep wells. We were fairly lucky. Chris' knowledge of hydro-geology and a local dowser's intuitive work both pointed to the same spot as the best place to dig a shallow well. Our water source is a culvert sunk 15 feet deep into bedrock at the bottom of the land. Electricity pumps it up to the house. I can't just turn on sprinklers willy nilly, and after a dry summer we have to be careful with water, but we have never run out.
After the delicious hot sunny summer of 2009 the well was way down. Chris made it work by managing it manually: go down to the pump house, check the water level, open the main valve to the system, fill the tank, and turn off the valve so the pump is not in danger of sucking in mud and air. Repeat later in the day after the well has had a chance to replenish itself.
Laundry was getting to be a problem, solved by taking big loads to the laundromat. One certainly did not want to spend a leisurely half hour under the shower, and the "If it's yellow let it mellow" rule was applied to the toilet.
But otherwise it was still a civilized household with hot and cold running taps. That ended after a cold night in December, when the pump froze and died. A new one was speedily installed. Alas, in order to get it up and running the tank needs to be filled twice, in rapid succession. We just cannot do that until the water table goes up, probably not till breakup.
Until that happy day we revitalize the water management skills we acquired during our years in the tipi and the old log cabin. That explains the blue camping thingy on the counter, the pails of water in the tub for flushing, and the big garbage pail in the kitchen full of melting snow. We have it down to a fine art.
It is a bit of a hassle, and of course I will be glad to get the system back to normal in spring. But let's get some perspective here: we can fill the blue containers at friends' houses and take them there by car. We don't have to melt snow for laundry, we just go to the laundromat. I can get quite clean with a wash cloth, and once a week or so we go for a good wallow at the Hot Springs. We have 2 to choose from.
It is a far cry from having to walk through dangerous desert for hours for the sake of a pail of contaminated crud, which is what many women in Africa have to do.