Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Living in a drought

All because of a drought and severe water restrictions, my potplants have never been better watered. They smile up into the searing heat, their roots happily sucking up the "greywater" from my morning shower.
Having been conditioned by the urgency of our South Australian water crisis into acute awareness of water use and waste, I now keep a bucket in the shower. It is either full or half full by the end of my morning ablutions, depending on whether it is a hair-washing day or not. So, every morning I traipse out into the garden with my bucket and share the precious water out - on plants which, previously, were lucky to be watered once a week.
Recycling greywater makes one very conscious of just how much water slips away as oone performs the usual domestic tasks. I now stand over the laundry sink when the washing machine heads for spin cycle and catch the rinse water in my bucket. There are four full buckets to a full load of washing. Four! A lot of happy plants.
But not in the street. The street trees are starting to droop. I have tried sharing my shower water with them - but the earth is so dry, the water just runs across it and the next thing you know, it is heading for the storm drain. One needs to spend some time dripping it slowly in on the rock-hard suburban earth. Many trees are not going to survive this drought. Those that do will record it for posterity - a slim line of deprivation in their growth rings.
Meanwhile, we watch our water and each other. There are a lot of dirty cars on the road. A good sign. One is permitted only to wash cars with a bucket and sponge. No hoses. Or one may go to a water-recycling car wash. A dirty car now is seen as a good citizen. A lush lawn is seen as greed. One wonders when the abuse will begin - people turning on each other over water waste.
For there is one clear thing. This drought has made people realise that although they may have all the material possessions in the world, water truly is the most precious of all commodities. We must never take it for granted.

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