Seattle is very dry. Last winter was mild and dry — and the Olympic Mountains went into this spring with very little snow on their peaks. Summer came early and has been very warm and dry — with several brutal heatwaves. Lawns are beyond yellow — almost colorless. And this warm, dry weather pattern is project to persist well into next year.
The City of Seattle has finally requested voluntary reductions in water use — in the hope of avoiding mandatory water restrictions. And I’m leaning on Alene to curb her wasteful habits — such as letting the water run while she brushes her teeth.
It’s a long time since Alene has had to think about how much water she uses. Believe it or not, water shortages are not uncommon in England. Although rain falls all year around, rainfall amounts can be surprisingly small — and there are no major watersheds or storage systems to supply the human population. Most of the rain that falls just runs off to the ocean, so a few months with little or no rain usually means a water emergency. I long ago gave up washing my car in the summer — or any other time of the year, for that matter. I have NEVER watered a lawn – happy to let the bloody thing die back and not have to mow it!!
But it was at my house in France that I learned to be sparing in my water use — not so much because the water supply was unreliable — but because of the tankless hot water heating system, which will supply hot water for about five minutes before it runs cold. You get used to taking short showers!
At the island camp, Allen and I had plenty of energy for lighting and heating, but our water supply had to be managed carefully. Water was pumped from a shallow body of groundwater that depends on regular rainfall for recharge. And, even though it rains a lot there, amounts were often modest — as in England. Rain barrels collected rain water for “gray-water” uses, such as washing equipment, rinsing muddy boots etc. — and we actually washed clothes with this water some of the time. The official water supply did go through a tankless heating system — so we didn’t have to take cold showers — but we kept showers extremely short. (No plumbed-in toilet — had an eco-friendly septic system.)
I’m now living much closer to civilization — but not with an urban water supply that you can take for granted. So I’m still taking short showers and turning water off to soap and shampoo; filling a small mug with water to use for brushing teeth; flushing the plumbed-in toilet only when necessary; and wearing clothes several times before washing. Where did people every get the idea that jeans can only be worn once before needing washing? I thought that was the reason for underwear — so that you could wear clothes for several days and just wash/change the underwear.
Seattle blogs are already busy with water-saving suggestions — and complaints from people who really think it’s someone else’s problem! But so far we haven’t seen mentioned the water-saving practice that has seen England through many a drought:
SHOWER WITH A FRIEND!!