Water Water Everywhere

Sometime around mid-afternoon yesterday, someone ran their car into a fire hydrant in our neighbourhood. Not only was the fire hydrant wrenched from its mooring, flooding the street, but the pipe leading to the hydrant was yanked and twisted to such an extent that it buckled a good chunk of the street.

I don’t know how this happened. Middle of the day, residential area, bright yellow fire hydrant well out of the way of the usual traffic. Something like that can’t be good for your car. I assume no one was killed or seriously injured or there would have been some media hysteria about it – no doubt calling for the immediate ban of fire hydrants across the country.

Anyway, the important part of this story  is that the neighbourhood was without water for a good 12 hours yesterday.

Including me.

Now, I have a pretty small carbon footprint. I believe it’s around .7, meaning if everyone lived like me we’d only need point seven earths to sustain us. However, I will confess to being a water hog. My carbon footprint would probably only be .1 or something if it weren’t for my massive consumption of water.

I wash my hands about 500 times a day; brush my teeth 5 or 6 times a day; usually have 2 showers every day (though I only shower with warm, not hot, water). I wash the hell out of our fruits and vegetables. I do dishes twice a day (though by hand). I rinse everything thoroughly even when not instructed to. And I drink lots of water.

I love water.

So, it was a really tough evening yesterday. They rigged up a community watering hole via a big hose tied to a tree. People lined up with buckets to fetch water. I got to meet a lot of neighbours, but everyone was really cranky. I tried to lead a short class on how to carry buckets of water on your head to lend some primitive authenticity to the process, but our heads were all too pointy.

It’s amazing how dependant we are on water. We really can’t do much of anything without it. I survived 10 days without electricity after Hurricane Juan with a good part of my mind still intact, but I was seriously on the edge last night without water. (Let’s not even talk about the kid whining that she had to have heated up soup from the freezer for supper instead of the usual “real” supper  she’s come to expect).

  • One in 5 people in the world has no access to safe drinking water.
  • Each person in North America uses 1,280,000 litres of water per year.
  • Europe: 694,000
  • Asia – 535,000
  • South America – 311,000
  • Africa – 186,000

So anyway the City of Ottawa guys were there until almost 2:00 am — jackhammering; digging a really big hole with their yellow hole digger thingy; and shouting a lot. I must give them credit for working their asses off to get the problem fixed as quickly as possible. In the whole 12 hours they were there I only noticed complete inactivity around suppertime for about 20 minutes while they wolfed down some grub.

Of course the Big Hole and resultant Big Pile of Dirt brought out the construction site groupies – old guys in trucker hats – standing around gazing down into the Big Hole and swapping stories of other Big Holes they’ve been part of. I checked with them every once in a while to see when they thought the water would be back on. They were pretty accurate.

I’ll tell ya what though – if you’re a middle-aged or elderly chickie looking to attract a gruff old guy with an infinite knowledge of sideline construction, get yourself a Big Hole (shut up) and/or a Big Pile of Dirt.

Meanwhile, I had to go to bed feeling grubby and without having had my evening salad. Can you imagine? Combined with the intensely noisy digging activity, sleep was pretty much impossible. But then, in the wee hours of the morning, in my half-dozed state, the world outside my window got quiet again. I peeked out. Everyone was gone. I ran to the bathroom, had a quick shower, flushed the toilets, changed the sheets and tried to sleep for a couple of hours.

That didn’t work out, so I got up to blog about it.

I still can’t figure out how someone could run into a fire hydrant.


29 responses to “Water Water Everywhere

  1. Poor XUP, had to go to bed without your second shower of the day.
    You know they have treatment for OCD problems.
    And as far as I know they don’t waste much water.

  2. So THAT’s what happened! They left a big bump in the road that almost made me airborne while taking the kids to daycare this morning. The kids went ‘wheee!”

    Two things: lotsa folks go like hell along that stretch and often run the stop sign with nary a touch of the brakes. Add that to the time of day… the kids would be getting out of school at about that time and, since they ARE invincible, many cross the street with nary (I like that word, OK?) a glance left and right. I figger a speeding car tried to avoid a teen… and ended up depriving you of H2O…

    Yeah, water.

    My line of work involves tracking environmental behaviours of folks like you and I can say with some authority that you are not unique as a “waterhog” BUT many households are making an effort to conserve…

    According to the latest stats, 39% of households had a low-volume toilet, 62% had a low-flow showerhead. Sixty percent always or often turned off the taps while brushing their teeth and of those households with a washing machine, 87% ensured that the machine was full before using it.

    How do you compare?

  3. Water is THE most crucial thing when on the road. It’s the decider. It’s the reason you can stay deep in the desert another day or two, or you have to get back to civilization. You never, ever have enough. You simply cannot ever tote enough for your needs. Ever day, in this so-called real life we’re [temporarily] living, I thank my lucky stars when water comes out of my tap.

  4. Bandobras – You say OCD, I say saving myself from the pernicious viral hotbed that exists on every surface and on and around every human being on the planet. The world is not going to end in a big explosion – it’s not going to be a giant nuclear warhead or asteroid that’s going to kill us all; it’s going to be a microscopic bacterium. So wear your masks always, wash your hands raw and stay in your hyperbolic chamber.

    Trashee – Hey! .7 carbon footprint – what more do you want from me? I only do 2 loads of wash a week and they’re always as full as they can get and still move around in there. I’m pretty sure our toilets are low-volume (It took only 1 bucket of water to fill it up yesterday); but my showerhead is not wimpy – it’s not overly aggressive, but also not dribbly and NO! I don’t always turn off the taps while brushing my teeth. Also, I believe the “accident” happened after the lunch migration was over – around 2 maybe? I really don’t understand why this wasn’t big headline news. Hello –no water for 12 hours? That’s inhumane.

    Jobthingy – I think we should start a petition to outlaw killer fire hydrants. They’re obviously a traffic menace.

    Ellie – Probably the number one reason I hate camping (right after having to sleep on the ground with spiders) is the lack of good water – for drinking, for showering, for washing stuff. There are millions of people in the world who would weep in awe and gratitude to have a tap of safe running water nearby AND one day we could be in their shoes if we keep depleting and destroying our potable water resources.

    Tom – Ah, how droll. Contrary to the impression I might have given on this blog or elsewhere, I don’t drink alcoholic beverages on weeknights when I have to be at work the next morning. Not that I ever drink enough to make it a problem to go to work the next morning, I just figure there has to be a line somewhere and that’s my line.

  5. “I tried to lead a short class on how to carry buckets of water on your head to lend some primitive authenticity to the process, but our heads were all too pointy.”
    That made me laugh out loud, thanks.
    I know what you mean about being fond of lots of water. Sometimes when I’m doing the dishes (by hand also), I wonder what the Bedouins do in the Sahara desert.
    And about the camping… I somehow changed how my brain worked and accepted the lack of water. Maybe I could do it because I knew how good a real shower would feel when I got home. I understand it’s a Zen thing, being able to accept something that you dislike. Like walking the dog in the rain. You have to do it and the dog gets wet but you accept it and carry on.

  6. I would have had the salad anyway. That’s probably what’s wrong with me. low grade botulism fever. I think it’s terrific that you know your exact carbon footprint.

  7. Julia – You’re way more Zen than I am about camping. My brain won’t let me forget that I can’t have a real shower in the morning. I do enjoy walking dogs in the rain, however.

    Jazz – Okay, go ahead and comment.

    Dave – I’m not that kind of blogger and/or a terrible photographer with a crappy little camera. It sure would have made the post more interesting though.

    Dr. Monkey – You know me so well.

    Lola – You, too can find out what your carbon footprint is: http://www.myfootprint.org/ And, I’d rather eat nothing at all than eat gritty salad or unwashed vegetables picked and packed by migrant workers who deliberately didn’t wash their hands after doing their business in the fields of vegetables they were harvesting and using the soft Boston Bibb as toilet paper.

  8. “standing around gazing down into the Big Hole and swapping stories of other Big Holes they’ve been part of. ”

    While my body stayed placidly in front of my desk so as to not arouse suspicion, my spirit leapt out and died from the laughter of recognition. I am totally the type of person who stands around Big Holes and talks about others.

    As for how much water you consume, if you really want to reduce your overall water usage, go vegetarian. I know I didn’t. I’m too lazy to find a site that says exactly how many litres of water go into each pound of beef, but it’s surprising.

    Also, I make sure to keep a supply of 2L cola bottles (well cleaned) filled with filtered water in my fridge. Also reduces energy because they take the place of air that would otherwise escape every time you open the door, requiring the fridge to have to re-chill the air that replaces it.

    – RG>

  9. I never realized how precious H20 was, till I drove through Utah during the summer. As far as the eye can see, everything is bone-dry and sterile, except near the occasional rivers that run through the desert.

    Lake Powell is a huge lake, hundreds of km long, formed by damming up the Colorado River at Page, Arizona. Millions of people depend on this water supply.


    From 1997 to 2005, due to drought, the reservoir went down from full to 33%. It’s only climbed back up to ~50% today.

    That’s kinda scary, when you think of it. Because when they first built the dam in the sixties, it took 17 years for the reservoir to fill in the first place.

  10. Bandobras – Thank you.

    Violetsky – I DO like to live near a large body of water – the sea preferably – but they don’t have to be within spitting distance as long as they’re near and as long as there’s hot and cold running water and good water pressure inside the villa. (Also, not a big fan of mountains) I hope none of this is a deal breaker?

    Grouchy – I’ve been a vegetarian for over 20 years, and I’m happy with my water usage. I reckon with a .7 footprint, I’ve already done way more than my share. I’m not getting the water bottles in the fridge thing? I have a Brita filter jug in my fridge and lots of food. I always understood that to save fridge energy, the freezer should be packed full and the fridge only half full.

    Friar – There’s been a tripling in water demand over the last 50 years with water tables falling far beyond sustainable levels all over the world (including the US). In some countries, their water will be completely depleted within 10 years. 70% of the world’s water usage is used for irrigation – 95% of that for irrigation of feed crops for livestock. It really IS scary.

  11. “Get yourself a Big Hole”

    Hah! I have two. One is my mouth.

    … The other is my composter. What the hell were you thinking? Sheesh.

    I’m disgusted by the amount of water North Americans use. I vow as of tomorrow to reduce mine. That being said, I’ve heard that modern dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand. I don’t know if that’s true or even if someone else mentioned that in their comments (too lazy/tired to check right now – please see tonight’s blog post by yours truly for more information) but I thought I would pass that along.

    It’s my potential gift to you.

  12. ….but our heads were all too pointy. HEH.

    I learned so much in this post…about water, about yellow hole-digger thingies, about YOU. Your teeth brushing habits are impressive! I, too, brush my teeth several times a day. And floss. And use a Water Pik. My dentist LOVES me. Oh! I love YOU. Have I mentioned THAT lately? Well, I do. So there. Love means never having bad oral hygiene and whatnot.

  13. I don’t know about my footprint but my assprint is huge. I think even those construction site groupies would just keep walkin’ right past my big hole or big pile of dirt.

  14. Trashee – You really DO suck. And yet, yours is still waaaaaaay smaller than the average North American. THAT seriously sucks

    Violetsky – Okay, I’m willing to compromise on the Pyrenees. I really think we need to plan a reconnaissance mission some time soon to find just the perfect spot.

    Maven – I guess that depends on how you do the dishes. If you fill one sink full of sudsy water and just leave the water running in the other sink for rinsing and you wash really slowly and thoroughly, then I reckon perhaps you might use more water than the dishwasher.

    Lesley – A water pik, eh?? Hmm, that does sound promising. I have a proxil brush for brushing between my teeth – I only do that once a day though. And of course I floss. And use those dental sticks for my gums. My dentist used to love me, too, but then I moved here and got a new dentist and he’s not too happy about the lack of work I require. And yes, love really does mean good oral hygiene.

    Charlene – You’d be positively delighted at how many men lust after big-assed women. I’m almost positive those construction site groupies are giving you the once over as you go by.

  15. I am also a bit of a water hog. My biggest indulgence would be baths-Yes, they waste water but floating in hot water is SO good!

  16. oh my god, i love construction groupies. my husband is one. he loves fenced off construction areas with peep-holes so he can watch what’s going on – kind of perverted, right?
    we like our water too. grace particularly likes a long shower. i actually gave her the olden days speech last night about people bathing in little tin tubs with cold water carried in from the outdoors, and how lucky we are to have indoor plumbing. She was scandalized.
    i wonder how much those guys on your street made in overtime???

  17. Hannah – Baths do feel good, but I’m a little grossed out by the idea of (as the Japanese say) bathing in your own dirt. Especially in the summer when you’re wearing sandals and you’re sweaty then you get in the bath and all that crap on your feet from the street and all the sweat from your body is floating around in the bath there with you creeping into your orfices and soaking into your skin. Then if you use soap or bubbles on top of that you end up with all that scum on your skin as well. I’m just sayin’ you should probably have a shower before and after your bath…but that would kind of defeat the “relaxation” factor.

    Meanie – It’s funny that they actually have to cut those peep-holes for construction site groupies. Before they thought of that the guys would pry apart some of the boards so they could see what was going on. The peep holes are not as much fun as spontaneous open sites though because you can’t gather a good crowd at peepholes nor have any good chin-wags. (Also, re: tin tub of cold water — exactly how old ARE you anyway?) Oh, and whatever those guys made in overtime it was well worth it.

  18. i love water too, but you really brush your teeth that many times a day? and your gums are ok with that?

    i will take two showers a day sometimes if i’ve been working outside. it’s neat to find how dependent on something we are without knowing it.

    i don’t get how a person can hit a fire hydrant either unless they had a seizure/coma/narcolepsy/etc.