© 2020 Donna Hébert, all rights reserved.
Monday morning . . . The good news is that the spring is recharging our cistern, though very slowly. With rain predicted for the next four days, we have our fingers crossed. We both took showers and did a small wash yesterday and now the water from the faucet doesn’t look drinkable, so we’re using stored or bought water for consumption. We’ll stagger our showers and continue to wash dishes by hand. No clothes-washing until the cistern is higher. In the short term, we have friends and neighbors who can refill our containers if that becomes necessary.
As a long-term solution, we can sink a much deeper well, so the bad news starts at $4,500 and can go much higher. Gulp. Our current water supply comes from a spring feeding into a cistern. There were drought conditions here throughout the summer and it’s been running low since we arrived in August. Global warming doesn’t improve the future outlook, so sinking a well might become necessary.
Thursday morning . . . It’s been raining off and on since Tuesday. This morning we had some hard rain for a few minutes and it’s returned a few times but it’s better like this, raining gently all day so it sinks into the earth instead of running off. The cistern has been recharging enough to shower and use the faucet for drinking as we had a half inch of rain two days ago and another 9/10 inch today so far. Bob has a weather station on the hill and he checks the cistern daily so we don’t get too low. I realize this sounds as tedious as watching the cracks dry up after it rains but I assure you it’s riveting to find out whether or not you can actually take a shower!
Friday morning . . . Wow! That wind is crazy and it’s just getting wilder. The Canadian weather service predicted flurries (their butch term for anything under a foot of snow) in the Cape Breton Highlands but here, we had “Oh, the wind and rain” all day, all night, gusting to 90 kph, and it’s still storming mightily. The photo shows what the hailstorm left behind on the deck outside my office. It wasn’t sleet. It was almost 50 degrees at the time and each spattering melted immediately. There were at least ten bursts of hail before the day was over but no rain of frogs so far. At least we didn’t get the snow that Antigonish got 2 hours south of us. They had to cancel their golf tournament. Have I mentioned that Cape Breton seems to fall in the center of a Venn diagram of weather? Yeah, just wait a minute . . .
Saturday morning . . . Bob checked the cistern level and it’s up fifteen inches so we are out of the woods for the moment. We’re still filtering water for drinking because it looks a little cloudy but hallelujah! Showers are possible and as soon as the sun shines, we’ll do a wash and hang it out.
If your home uses town or city water, you may have problems other than a cistern running low. Flint, Michigan residents are still afraid to drink the water that comes out of the tap after six years of remediation. Wherever you live, maybe you wonder what they put in the water to make it potable and maybe you also wonder why is it so fishy-tasting and you filter it anyway just in case. Here, though the water is pure, cold, and delicious, a well might be needed because this year’s drought is a taste of the future. If my residency is approved, we’ll also be here year-round, using more water and tending the large garden we hope to grow with water from that spring.
We take it for granted on the east coast but clean, fresh water is our most precious natural resource. Access to water will determine the future of all civilization, just as it has in the past. Ghost cities in the African deserts, the American southwest, and the jungles of Central America are evidence of what happens when we outgrow our water resources. At rock bottom, we can’t grow food and society collapses.
Our fresh waters are ever more endangered and we certainly can’t use them up in some Biblical fantasy of dominion and redemption. People who don’t believe in that particular story also need the water, dammit, so religion just exacerbates the problem rather than solving it. Remember those ghost cities? They’re a warning.
I’m concerned about conservation and I favor public over private ownership of aquifers and lakes, rivers and streams. That means leaving forests alone so watersheds are protected. It means refusing to allow something universally required for life – water – to become the exclusive property of Nestle or some other international company, who packages it in plastic and sells it back to us at great cost to us and the planet.
Nestle’s CEO has been quoted as saying that we as individuals do not have an absolute right to water, that we must buy it, with the implication that when there is none other to be had, we can buy it from them, or die. I don’t think so. We need to protect that water for all life and for future generations on the planet. It’s far too valuable to squander for corporate profit.
Water is the true elixir of life and of course, you can’t make decent whiskey without it!