Water Shuffle

By , July 24, 2019

We continue to receive less rain than we should expect at this time of year. While we get a few showers now and then, we don’t get the actual rains that water the gardens, fill our tanks, and freshen our forest (see Drought Busted).

The other day, I took our stiffest tape measure up to the summer water tank and plunged it to the bottom. We appear to have 2 feet of water in a tank that holds 5 feet or so of water. I calculate we have less than 400 gallons left.

Zeiger family homestead summer water tank

Our summer water tank (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

According to the system the original homestead builders created, we’re right on track for switching back to the winter water tank. They commonly used the summer tank from the first real thaw to whenever the creek that feeds it runs dry. That creek dried long ago, earlier this summer; but, even though the system now serves half the people it had originally been designed for, we’re reluctant to switch back.

Despite that, I changed to the winter water tank yesterday, after morning showers and a thorough dish wash. The summer tank remains “on line” to serve the compost pile and water the garden for as long as possible. If and when the replenishing rains return, I’ll likely switch back for as long as possible, provided that the summer tank fills to overflowing before the first freezes start.

We already know that, despite the lack of rain, the winter tank is virtually full to the top. August is generally our “monsoon season,” when the seasonal typhoons in the South Pacific send us copious amounts of rain. We should be fine. Still, because I’ve deviated from a pattern we’ve set for ourselves over the last 10+ years, it makes me a bit nervous.

cabin water intake

The cabin water intake. Summer water tank flow comes in at right. Winter water tank flow comes up from underground beneath the cabin (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Water scarcity has recently, belatedly become a public concern issue (see Water on the Brain). Now, it’s hitting home, not so much for us, but for our neighbors, many of whom ran out of water a month or more ago. Likely, it won’t hit us, but, as I say, this new change from our norm has my attention. My “water shuffle” may not be entirely necessary, but it may bring us a little peace of mind.

(For a detailed overview of our catchment water system, see Fresh Water: Collecting and Conserving a Precious Resource.)

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