Sunday, September 11, 2011

We just can't give up

Last week, after officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made the sad announcement that La Nina is returning, James and I made a decision: no more watering our plants. At dinner one evening, we talked about the impact and strain a continued drought will have on our region's water supplies. Especially with reoccurring fire wilds. So we agreed that we had to go even further in our personal water conservation.

It was a tough choice. And it hurt to imagine our beloved mistflowers, salvias, betonies and so many more natives turning brown and dying. But in order to survive this drought, we've all got to make sacrifices.

A day or two later, I proposed that we at least occasionally water a few natives, just to keep them going. Soon they'd be going dormant any way with winter nearing. James agreed.

Yesterday, a proverbial LIGHT BULB went off in my head: use the gray water in our washing machine! In 1999, I did that in my former life at the state park. Back then, the city of Blanco relied solely on the Blanco River for water, and the river was rapidly going away in the midst of a drought. So I hauled and dumped water from our family washing machine to flush upstairs toilets. I felt good about stretching our water. But then I ended up with a sprained or strained shoulder. It hurt a lot! I even ended up getting some physical therapy to deal with the aches.

Eventually, the rains returned, the river filled back up, and the city built a pipeline to Canyon Lake. Despite our guaranteed source of water, I still believe that we must diligently conserve water. So does James. Needless to say, he liked the idea of using our gray water. So far, we've found that one load (no matter the size) produces 10 to 20 gallons of water. Yes, it's a lot of work to dump and pour, and I'm sure there's a more efficient way to do this. But happily, our natives are getting at least some moisture.

Last night, we watched a personal video shot by Bob and Bri of the September 11, 2001, horrors. It's posted on YouTube. I cried some as we watched huge balls of smoke engulfing Manhattan and people fleeing for their lives. "You know, if the people in New York City can survive all they did 10 years ago," I reflected, "then we an survive this drought." James nodded. "Yes, you're right," he said quietly.

This natural disaster is entirely different from 9-11. But the stress and worry about wild fires and potential loss of life doesn't go away. We see nature and wildlife suffer every day. Butterflies, bees and other tiny critters are nearly nonexistent. Every day, we ask God for rain in His Son's name. And we know and believe that He's in control. But when, God? When?

As our dear friend C.A. Rust reminds us, "We're one day closer to rain." In the meantime, we just can't give up.


Caroline said...

Nope, can't give up. I am keeping your washing-machine graywater idea in the back of my head, as I suspect we'll be going to Stage 3 water restrictions in Austin soon. (Question: do you use the wash water, or just the rinse water? And do you use special detergent?)

Sheryl Smith-Rodgers said...

I use water from both cycles and mix them. I also use Arm & Hammer liquid detergent. The water from my washing machine used to run into the back yard, but a few years ago we routed it into our pipes because the old black hose was SO unsightly, and the repeated doses of gray water into only one area wasn't helping soil etc. At least, it didn't like it did to me. We'll see how this goes!

CWPickens said...

I watched a forest service video yesterday that said you should irrigate around your home, for protection if a wildfire burns through. I am using soaker hoses on the beds around the house (frugally) to keep the perennials green. This is a trade-off - water conservation or house preservation? We try to compromise . . .

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