Vermont is in a significant drought. According to our Agency of Natural Resources website, 73% of the state is affected, with the north central area (where I am) in a “severe” drought.
That’s all well and good; the story here is that our well went dry last week.
Let me phrase that better, because our well has gone dry often. In recent years, around August as we watched our pond diminish, we’d experience an empty tap about an hour after starting to water our gardens. Easy enough to fix: we just turn off the hoses. The water came back in force within 10 – 20 minutes.
This summer, though, I noticed it took nearly an hour before it came back. Then, last month, we noticed it wasn’t coming back until morning. But come back it did. We had some interrupted laundries. We stopped watering our gardens. I realized it hadn’t rained since July.
Then, last Thursday morning, it didn’t come back. We were completely without water.
I’ve never been completely without water. Even in Kazakhstan, considered a desert, we always had water. We couldn’t drink it without running it through our distiller, but we had water. Hot water too.
Mind you, I know there is a world-wide water crisis. I’m one of those people who turns off the shower while I suds up the shampoo, even though our water just cycles back into the ground water, eventually. Still, I was not in any way prepared for this.
How to deal with a water crisis.
So, supposed you turned on your faucet and nothing came out. What would you do? First?
The first thing I did was try to find out how widespread it was. I posted a query on our local internet bulletin board, Front Porch Forum. I thought I’d start a discussion on who else is out of water, how are we coping, when’s it coming back. You know, a conversation.
Instead I got a dozen or more emails directly offering laundry facilities, showers, and outdoor water spigots so we could fill up. Vermonters are great; neighbors are great. People are great.
Many sent suggestions of public showers, though with Covid, they weren’t sure they were still open. I learned a town to the north of us has been without water for the last month. The whole town! At least our town wasn’t dry; just my well (and a few other wells, it would turn out).
The second thing I did was write the former owners of our house to learn about our well. Granted, I should have known this before even moving in; I probably did. But who keeps that kind of information in their head? Obviously not I. (Nor Woody).
So, I gave Ralph a quick email. Within an hour I’d learned that we have an eight foot “dug” well (to distinguish our well from a “drilled” well, which would go much deeper). No wonder the well was dry. The spring that fed it was dry.
Our area normally gets about nine inches in July and again in August. We hadn’t gotten any rain here since July 27 when we got a half inch.
The folks who were emailing me with offers of help had drilled wells or were on town water. Who ever thinks about these things? Someone who has no water, that’s who.
The third thing I did was to call my plumber to see what he might do. What he could do was give us names of people who actually work on wells. Plumbers do not. I learn something new every day.
I called. Full up. No way can they even come over to give us a (free) estimate until around Thanksgiving. They are simply too busy. And, if it is a drilled well we need, their very friendly receptionist was able to tell me it’ll run us between $9,000 and $16,000.
In the meantime, we needed water to drink. We needed to wash dishes, cook, do laundry (not so much), and stay clean.
We’ve figured it out. But you know what I missed the most in all this? Take a guess. What would you miss the most, do you think?
It’s not showering whenever I want — I haven’t really done that since Peace Corps anyway. We have two homes to visit offering us shower privileges.
It’s not laundry. Again, two homes.
It’s not filling up the multiple water jugs. And there are many: one 6-gallon one, two 4-gallon ones, and three 1-gallon ones. There we have four sources. We use all four. Can’t have our neighbors doing dry too. (Our neighbors have drilled wells; smart folks that they are).
What I’ve come to miss most is washing my hands. I want warm water and suds; I want to sing Happy Birthday or whatever new song I’ve landed on so I will scrub them the recommended 20 seconds. There’s Covid out there, and washing hands is high up there in the “things to do to keep Covid at bay” category.
We brought in the hand sanitizer spritz bottle from Woody’s truck and it is rooted on the corner of the kitchen counter so we always know right where it is.
And I’ve grown to hate it.
The smell of it. The feel of it. The fact of it. The need of it. I want to rub my hands together under warm soapy bubbles. We were guests last night at a friends’ home and that’s the first thing I did when I arrived. I washed my hands. It was heavenly. No, I did not do a rendition of “Out, damn spot.”
And tonight as I type this up, I can hear the rain falling. Tomorrow’s forecast is 100% rain, all day. The first we’ve had in over nine weeks.
How about you? What’s been keeping you busy these days?