poetry and prose about place

water, water

with 10 comments

In the middle of the night, five days ago, I woke to the sound of our water pump laboring.  The pump never comes on if no one is using the water, so I guessed something could be wrong.  I counted the seconds and after a count of sixty, I knew we had trouble.  The pump usually shuts off after about a minute.  While I ran off a bit of water, my husband went down and shut off the pump.  Our little saga of renewed water appreciation had begun!

We are on a private well, and so we tend to take our water for granted.  It has a delicious earthy taste, and our well supplies water at a rate of about 20 gallons per minute, so we never have quantity problems.  I am always grateful for our well water when I taste the chlorinated city water, which I have never been able to get used to.  For 20 years, our jet pump has done its work faithfully, so we are never without good, clean water, except during the occasional power outage.  Just in case, I always keep about 40 liters of water available in jugs, as a supply for these situations (the Emergency Measures Organisation suggests an emergency supply of at least 2 liters of water per person per day for the first 72 hours).

The next morning, we called the plumbing company and they came right away, replacing our old pump.  But after using all my emergency supply of water to try to prime the new pump, it became obvious that we have a clogged foot-valve… the pump would not prime.

We now have to wait until Friday for another service to come, pull up the well pipe and replace the foot-valve.  In the meanwhile, we are getting a lesson in water use and conservation.

Our main uses of water are for drinking and cooking, washing ourselves, rinsing vegetables, cleaning our dishes, and flushing toilets.  Fortunately, I had a done a big laundry after returning from our recent vacation, so laundry will not be a problem for a while.

Meanwhile, we have adopted a hierarchy for water use, saving the remnants of each use … the grey water from bathing and doing dishes gets reused for toilets.

It also rained for the first two days of our water shortage, so I collected enough water to keep ahead of our bathroom needs for the first couple of days.

Our other source of water for the bathrooms is our dehumidifier.   It puts out about a half-bucket of water a day.  In ordinary times, this water goes down the drain without a thought, but now it is an important source for flushing the toilet.

For our other uses, we are lucky to be able to buy water from the grocery shelves.  I can’t remember when water became a commodity, but I know my parents bought water occasionally in the 1980s.

Of course, we can also get our water from relatives and neighbors, or drive to a nearby lake, but our ‘crisis’ should be over by Friday.

This experience has been a good reminder for me, not to take water for granted.  I used to repeat this message when I worked in the field of water conservation during my years with government.  How easily I have forgotten my own advice!!!

Copyright Jane Tims 2012

Written by jane tims

October 3, 2012 at 7:42 am

10 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Lovely shot of the pickerel. Isn’t it interesting how we take water for granted? We have well water here too, and have practiced a variety of water conservation methods during extended power outages. Even during short power outages, now that I think of it, because we never know how long the power will be out so it’s best to conserve right away. I’ve been known to fill the bathtub with water prior to a big storm, just in case. It saves us a few trips down to the pond to collect water for the toilet.



    October 9, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    • Hi. You are lucky to have the pond. I have a small pond, but the water is full of leaves and I was afraid to use it for fear of gumming up the pipes. It is true that we always assume the power outages will be short. You never know…. Jane


      jane tims

      October 9, 2012 at 6:49 pm

  2. Interesting and informative post Jane. we all take water for granted. I get so frustrated when I see people watering their lawns in the heat of the day and it’s all spilling over onto the concrete sidewalk!

    I would love to taste your pure well water. The water over here is so full of minerals we have to clean our kettle at least once a month.



    October 7, 2012 at 12:41 am

    • Hi. Our water is finally back. It will take a few days to settle the sediment and get our water back to normal, but I will appreciate it more than ever before! Jane


      jane tims

      October 8, 2012 at 7:38 am

  3. What an inconvenience, sorry. It’s instructive how much we need our water, how we shouldn’t take easy access to clean water for granted, and how disasters are created by both too much water or too little water! This is an important message. I’m really impressed that you not only knew you should have extra water available, but that you actually had it! Kind of like knowing you should back up your computer and actually doing so. Very rare! And I also love the picture, Jane.


    Jane Fritz

    October 3, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    • Hi. In future, I will be storing even more water for emergency use. Our well will be fixed by this time tomorrow, but it took us a full week to adjust to our water availability situation. Fill those emergency water jugs… you never know!!!! Jane


      jane tims

      October 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm

  4. Ahh good and faithful servant (the pump)- finally gives up the ghost! We are on a community well and are reminded everytime there is a leak in the system, how fragile our little system is. Hang in – only a few days to go! K


    The Course of Our Seasons

    October 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    • Hi. I think we need a little reminder every so often about how we are part of the system. We now have a better idea how much water we need and, thanks to my brother-in-law, we are now water-rich for the next two days. Jane


      jane tims

      October 3, 2012 at 7:03 pm

  5. The last picture is so pretty – what are those plants sticking out of the water? I sympathize with your pump situation – my dad has his own well, too, and I can remember at least two occasions in my fifty-five years when the pump had to be replaced. Water is precious!


    Barbara Rodgers

    October 3, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    • Hi Barbara. The leaves sticking out of the water in the photo are Pickerel Weed (Pontederia cordata). It is very common in New Brunswick lakes and has spikes of blue flowers. The photo of the lake is making me thirsty! Jane


      jane tims

      October 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I'd love to hear what you think...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: