by Charlene Burgi
All too often, we fail to acknowledge how technology makes our lives easier. For example, I have always pretty much taken water for granted. If I turn on the faucet, I expect to get the water I need. This concept holds true for bathing, turning on the irrigation system, flushing toilets, washing clothes or any other task requiring water. A flick of the wrist is all it takes. I have always lived where potable water was delivered to our home . . . until recently. Since moving to the ranch it has struck me that this life-supporting commodity delivered to our home has more value than I acknowledged . . . even as a conservation specialist.
Country living has reduced the dependability of our water service to a party of one instead of a whole water district. Luckily, I have the good fortune of being married to a man MacGyver would envy when it comes to fixing anything. For example, the other day Jack said he wanted to change the location of the pressure tank at the well to give us more water pressure at the house. I had fair warning and considered what I planned to do that day that required water. I filled enough containers to sustain me for the time he thought it would take to do the job, and all went well (no pun intended).
However, the week before, we drove up from Marin to hear a crackling sound just before we lost electrical power. It was night, the generator backup was buried in the shop, and I madly ran around gathering candles for light. But without electricity, we didn’t have water when I turned on the faucet. Luckily, I had learned to stash about 10 gallons of this precious liquid after finding myself in trouble last winter. The frozen ground broke the main line coming into the house, and my knight in shining armor couldn’t make it up to the ranch for four days. Neighboring ranchers soon learned of my dilemma and brought gallons of water to me. Boy, did I learn to conserve during that time. I realized I must plan for emergency outages!
I have been humbled by these experiences. While I have dumped water from gallon jugs to flush a toilet, it could have been worse. Our forefathers (or mothers) would hand pump water from wells or streams and carry the water back to the house. Water had to be boiled to purify it. My back aches thinking of what it would be like washing clothes in a wood tub instead of pouring a bit of soap and fabric softener into the front loader. Until recently, I rarely gave a thought to the fine engineers and field workers at MMWD and NMWD who make certain that water is there for us 24/7. I guarantee there is nothing more disturbing than to flick my wrist now and have nothing come out of the faucet. Got water?