Column: A few thoughts about water

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By Ward Degler

Our well pump was slow kicking in the other morning, and I started the day with a wimpy shower. Bummer!

Then, I realized how blessed we are that we can go to the sink, turn on the faucet and get water. We throw dirty clothes in the washing machine, push a button and walk away. Job done. In the summer, I uncoil the hose and water thirsty flowers.

Water is something man cannot do without.  The ancients built aqueducts to bring water to their cities. Pioneers dug wells with nothing but shovels. The aborigines in the Outback of Australia fill ostrich eggs with water and bury them in the sand so thirsty trekkers can have a drink. Out west, farmers fight over water rights. My cousin who managed water conservation for the state of New Mexico says folks have actually killed over water.

We didn’t have running water when I was a kid. Mostly, we had cisterns and shallow wells. We brought water into the house one bucket at a time from an outdoor hand pump. One of the places we lived had a pump at the kitchen sink. Mom was ecstatic. Of course, she had to keep a pan of water on the counter to prime the pump. Once, she forgot and had to wait for Dad to come home with his canteen.

Dad also kept a canvas desert bag attached to the front of his pickup in summer. He soaked the bag in water and filled it with water. As he drove, the hot, dry air evaporated the water from the outside of the bag. The result was cool drinking water on a hot day. I never understood how this worked. Dad said it was some law of physics.

We took baths on Saturday in a washtub. Mom heated water in the tea kettle a dozen times and then added cold water from the pump. We kids got the first bath, followed by Mom and Dad – in the same water. We washed our hair once a week at the sink and rinsed with warm water that been heated on the stove. One place we lived the well was contaminated, and Dad brought water home in metal jerry cans.

We may hook up to city water in the future, but we like the well water. It’s hard as concrete but is free of chlorine.

Some cities have deep wells. One such town is Sioux Falls, S.D. It was once named the city with the best tasting water in the U.S. It also was the coldest water in the U.S.. It actually made your teeth hurt.

Come to think of it, a wimpy shower now and then isn’t so bad.

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