October 10, 2018 is the date of the fourth annual ‘Imagine a Day Without Water’ campaign. Water is such a given factor in our daily lives that it is hard to imagine going without. Water is also so convenient, most of us never give it a thought, just turn the tap and out the water comes. So here is my attempt to imagine a day without water. I am assuming that this is a day without potable public water. How this happens is unknown, possibly a massive break in the main from the water treatment plant into town and simultaneously all of the storage tanks failed and drained. Whatever the situation, water in my scenario is not delivered to my house, or any house in the city.
It’s 3:15 AM. As usual I have to get up and pee. It’s not a big deal, I walk down the hall, do my business and flush. Everything works like normal. As I wash my hands, I notice that the water pressure is low. It’s no big deal, I can look into it in the morning. So, I go back to bed.
Now it is 5:15 AM, my normal wakeup time. My routine for getting up is to go to the bathroom, then make coffee and during the summer I move out to the porch and watch the sun come up. There is no water in the toilet. Well now, that is a problem. Luckily, we live at the edge of town, I run out behind the quince bush and do my business. In the kitchen I get my coffee pot ready. Nothing comes from the tap. That means no coffee this morning. Maybe when Sharon gets up we can run down to the local coffee shop.
At 5:45 AM, Sharon gets out of bed. She goes into the master bath and uses the toilet. The toilet flushes like normal, but then there is no water for her to wash her hands and the toilet doesn’t refill. I tell her that ‘They’ are likely working on the water line down the street and will have things back to normal soon. We have some cereal with soy milk then head down to the coffee shop for our morning fix. Sharon mentions that there doesn’t seem to be anyone working on the water main. I assure her that it must be just around the corner out of sight. When we get to the coffee shop, there is a sign, “Closed, No Water”. There is another coffee shop across town so we drive over there, same situation. We head back home resolved to get through the morning with no caffeine. Back home, scrolling across the bottom of the TV screen is a list of schools, churches, factories and businesses closed for the day because of the water outage. The newscaster says that it might be several hours until the situation is under control. Since we are both retired, that isn’t a real big deal, at least I can do some work around the house. Sharon wonders how this affects all those people working in the factories. I respond that they likely get the day off with no pay. Then head out to the yard. A couple of tarps and a cat hole creates a makeshift latrine. At least we have some privacy. The grass was getting tall so I decided to mow the yard.
Sometime around 11:30 AM there are sirens blaring. I wonder what is up. It is close to lunch time so I move inside. I am pretty gritty and hot. But there is no chance to take a shower. We have some cheese sandwiches with lettuce. We are taking a chance by using lettuce that is not washed but maybe we won’t be infected with E.coli bacteria. The guy on the TV says that a fire is burning in a house across town. That explains the sirens. Then he goes on to say that when the fire fighters arrived, there was no water. The house burned to the ground.
It has been a while since I washed the car. My plan had been to wash it this afternoon. But with no water, that gets put off a few more days. I spent the afternoon inside reading.
We had supper at home tonight. It was a frozen entrée because there was no water for cooking. Also, there was no iced tea or coffee. We couldn’t wash our hands so we wiped off as best we could. Overall supper wasn’t that bad except we couldn’t brush our teeth. Those teeth felt pretty gritty the rest of the day. I wandered out to the temporary latrine one more time. After working in the yard all day, a shower sure would feel good. But there is no water, I can’t even sponge off. Sleeping will be difficult.