07/09/2017 by syrbal-labrys
If you are the average American, not living somewhere like Flint or Detroit, you turn on the tap and water flows. It isn’t even something the average American thinks much about, except to bitch about the water bill from time to time.
I’m not the average American. I worry about water all the time. It is precious to me. I carried water, as a young teenager – a half mile walk from an irrigation ditch. It gave me the upright posture and thrown back shoulders my military drill sergeants thought perfect. I carried water from a well to fill stock tanks and milk cans in the house that had no indoor plumbing. I did this in all seasons, with freezing fingers in winter and a grateful bullsnake (well-house inhabitant) coiled upon my shoulders for pre-dawn warmth.
I’ve fought with my three community well neighbors for pre-emptive fixes to problems clearly visible without a crystal ball. The well pumped 30 gallons per minute in 1979 when it was new. It was doing about 20 to 25 gallons per minute in 1987 when we bought our house.
Since 2001, the occasional hot-dry-August issue of the well holding tank going dry when everyone sprinkled their grass became a problem in soggy May and damp June. In the last five years, it quit as early as February. In 2014, we paid to have the drilling hole dredged out — rubble and grit sucked up — and a new deep pump installed.
It did not solve the problem and the well pumped only TWO gallons per minute. Set higher to pump faster, it pulled in the earthen sides of the well hole because there was not enough water for it to pump/pull instead. The county advised us to immediately apply/permit/dig a supplementary well before it failed utterly. My three neighbors united to refuse, saying it “would be ok when the September rains come.” It was not ok at all.
The well pumps one gallon or less per minute now. It quits almost daily if not multiple times daily. The neighbor who talked the others out of improvements hides in his house or in Seattle. He won’t be here Monday when a diagnostic is run on the well by yet another well drilling outfit – since he claims the original company just wanted to “sell us expensive work.” That thin stream of water is the best I can get right now. Everyone showers briefly and fewer times per week. The water of warming up the shower is caught in a two gallon watering pitcher to feed precious plants we want to save. We cannot use the sprinkler at all without the well precipitously quitting. Toilets are flushed only when absolutely necessary. Laundry is limited and done at non-peak hours, though when that is with four households in operation is tough to guess.
If the well is failing, as I dread; it will have to be scrapped and replaced. We could be without any water for months as a new well is permitted, dug, and equipped. I utterly quiver at the idea of laboriously digging an entire new water line from a new well house in a different location – we did this once in the mid-90’s in hopes of improving our pressure. It was back-breaking work digging 24″ deep and 12-15″ wide for 120 or so feet.
I cannot think about my neighbor who told various lies and bullshitted neighbors into thinking I was a hysteric for the last 15 years without wanting to go “Black Sails” on his cheap lying macho-pretender ass. We will have to mortgage the house, most likely, to pay the horrifically high costs of an entire new well.
And yes, this is why the “oil wars” will look like Sunday socials compared to the water wars to come. Welcome to the 21st century, America. What is the life of Flint, Detroit, and me today? Could be you tomorrow.