Today on the Trail Baboon blog, Dale Connelly asked this question: “When has an unlikely personal experiment succeeded?”
Thirty years ago our family was forced to personally experiment with ways to get enough water into our home to use for our daily living. We had built a new house, but the township in Michigan where we lived had not come through on their promise to have sewer and water lines in place by the time we moved in. Because of various on-going delays, we lived for one year without running water in that house. We tried driving a wellpoint http://weather.nmsu.edu/hydrology/wellpoint.htm in our basement in order to bring a water source into our house, but our home was positioned above a rock ledge, and we could not get the point through the ledge, so we had to resort to hauling water home to use. We ended up using three 10 gallon stainless steel milk cans, kept in a shining row next to our front door, to store water for drinking, preparing food and washing dishes. This supply lasted us about 5 days. My husband filled the cans at a public park adjacent to a cemetery which was about 2 miles from our home. We also kept a very large plastic garbage can with rainwater (in season)in it in the bathroom for flushing the toilet. We taught our kids this rhyme: “If it’s yellow, let it mellow; If it’s brown, flush it down.” Friends offered us their saunas for personal bathing twice a week. The kids were 4 and 5 years old at the time, so out of diapers, thankfully. Ironically, my husband, John, is a plumber. (What do they say about the shoemaker’s family?) Fortunately his employer had locker rooms for the staff, so he was able to shower daily at work.
Several families wanted to build homes in the township, but knew of our dilemma, and would not begin construction because there seemed to be no definite start date for the water and sewer lines. Eventually, pressure had to be put on the township: we suggested that we would to go to the local news station with our story, speaking about the long delays on the part of the township to fulfill their promise of providing water and sewer service. Whether this was the ultimate deciding factor for the township board or not, we soon saw earth moving equipment on our road, and the lines were in place almost exactly a year after the date we moved into our new home.
A year was a long time to try to run a household for a family of four without running water – I hope we NEVER have to do it again – but our unlikely family experiment did ultimately prove successful. Wish we had kept one of those milk cans; we could have painted it gold and kept it in a corner of our house as a trophy ; )