Thursday, June 25, 2015

Take 37 - Living the California drought

What can I say about the California drought that has not already been said. Friends from different countries often ask me: what does it mean for your everyday life and how do you save water? Well, here is a longer version of my usual answer.

When we first moved here from Canada, 3 1/2 years ago, unbeknownst to anyone, this drought had already started. To be totally honest, not being used to so much sun and so little rain after living in Vancouver for over a decade,  we were really clueless. We just loved that every day was sunny and warm, winters were practically nonexistent and we couldn't believe our luck of living in California. And time and life went on and so did the sunshine, the warmth and the lack of rain. During that time, we lived in an apartment, watered our plants, took showers, did laundry and used water in the kitchen for cooking, cleaning and rinsing stuff, unaware. Well,  the years went by, we left the apartment for a house we bought and started paying for water with an actual bill and not charges hidden into our monthly rent payment. This bill showed us our monthly usage. Wake-up call! News bulletins started mentioning water waste more and more and we decided to do our part and become water wiser.

We covered all unpaved areas with landscape fabric and mulch (wood pellets). We installed rain cisterns to gather the rare raindrops that would accumulate on our roof and modified a rain drain to drop each precious drop into a covered garbage tub with a hole. We became mindful of the length of our showers and made them shorter. We bought 4 flexible plastic tubs and use them in our showers to gather what would otherwise become waste water. Gallons and gallons are saved this way each time we take a shower. We rinse fruits, veggies, etc over another smaller tub in the kitchen. There too, the quantity of grey water saved is phenomenal. In toilets, we have put full plastic water bottles in the toilet tanks to diminish the amount of water used with each flush. Also, as the saying goes here, if it's brown, flush it down and if it's yellow let it flow. We become immune to the number of times we flush a toilet per day.  If I make pasta or cook veggies in water, I scoop out the food when it is ready and let the water cool on the stove until I can transfer it to a tub. All of this saved water goes for my trees and plants. We do feel a spot of guilt when it comes to our pool. However, here is how we rationale this situation. We did not have the pool built. it was there when we bought the house. We were told that we can't let the level go below the filter pump intake, otherwise the pump cannot work.  If it cannot work, the pool becomes stagnant and a breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitos.  That is why, the Government isn't asking pool owners to stop filling them up, just to limit to less than one foot at a time and if you empty it completely for, say,  cosmetic repairs, you can't fill it up again. Since we need to have the pool resurfaced, that is part of a cosmetic repair and we are waiting until the drought is resolved before having it done.

These days, each time we turn on the faucet or flush the toilet, we stop and think before we do it. That's how we are doing our part to help this situation but truly, I cannot wait for a regular rain season and long days of nothing but rain making everything peaceful and fresh again.