Saving the planet? I’ll start with water

This is what it means when you need to be mindful of how much water you use, if, like us, you only get water three times a week for 3 hours at a time. If you’re really, really lucky.

 You need to have ample storage: I have two small tanks elevated above the ground and one underground (utilized for the first time today since patched up after being punctured by roots of nearby mango tree), I also have four large plastic blue containers which granted are not very beautiful garden features but they are potentially very useful ones;

You need to adopt that faintly disgusting ‘let it mellow’ mantra with loo usage;

You need to have short, sharp showers: get under shower, turn it on, briefly, wet self and soap, turn shower off, wash, turn on to rinse. As quickly as you can. Hair washing days need to be timed with max water days, especially when you have long hair like me and so need several shampoos and handfuls of conditioner to get it both clean and comb-able.  Baths are out of the question.

You need to wear your clothes – with exception of undies, obviously – for several days running; this is because there is absolutely not enough water for copious amounts of laundry; try to time clothes changes with days out so that you at least look marginally presentable and don’t smell;

Because arrival of water is erratic (you are never sure which three days nor which three hours, turning on of main tap is at the whim of dara ya maji, the local water board), you need to have a tap dedicated to incoming water supply and you need to keep beady eye on it so that you’re on the ball the moment it begins to gurgle promisingly.

When that happens, you need to move swiftly into action and fill assorted tanks and plastic containers. When they’re full, you can set about dribbling water on the dust and dead grass that is masquerading as a lawn – though usually you don’t get that far.

I can’t think about saving Planet Earth right now, all my energies are consumed with conserving sufficient water to keep my family clean enough that they don’t become health hazard or social pariahs.

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11 Responses to “Saving the planet? I’ll start with water”

  1. retrocolonialmama Says:

    mem, do what we did here on Mafia, get a guy with his divining sticks, find water on your plot (there will be some, there always is, it’s just a question of how deep) and dig a bore hole, it cost us tsh200,000 plus urrggg quite a bit for the pump and genset BUT we always have water now – bliss!

  2. The Good Woman Says:

    Here here. A water diviner would also make for a great blog post – they’re always a little odd.

  3. Carolyn Says:

    OOOoooooooooh divine water! I admire you for being able to live like this, especially the whole hair-washing drama. Wow.

    Can you use grey water on the garden? Or do you do that already?

  4. Gillian Says:

    Here in Oz, we’ve got water in the taps but dam levels are so low that we’re not allowed to use it much. “If it’s yellow, let it mellow” is one of the official recommendations for conserving water. My washing machine discharges onto the lemon trees – which are now burdened with fruit! Maybe its the phosphates in the washing powder.

    This is not the back of beyond, not an outpost – it is Sydney, consistently voted in the Top 10 desirable places in the world to live/visit.

    Conserving water is kinda normal these days — and closely connected with saving the planet. Or so we tell ourselves. So, Mem, what you’re doing is not so strange, though where you’re doing it is certainly very strange!

  5. Rob Says:

    Pity can’t send you some water from here! With all the rain this summer there is just too much. You can be that 50% of the water leaving the outlet in the local dam does not make it to the end user… Sounds like outpost needs a water expert – or should that be expat?!

  6. Kathleen Says:

    You should write an article about yr water restrictions. It would be an eye opener.

  7. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Water diving is a wonderful thing (and those that divine are – I agree – often fabulous blog fodder), but I don’t have the space for a borehole sadly. Really, I don’t. I live in the most suburban setting I have ever lived in in Africa. Further from civilisation than I ever have. Rob – stuff the water experts, nothing for them to work with, but expats, yup – send ’em in – am going to lose the art of conversation otherwise. Or talk about nothing but water?

  8. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Hey Kathleen, that’s a great idea. Thanks for that.

  9. Chiara Says:

    You need some hippos! They’ll help conserve water in the toilet cisterns. Fill a strong plastic bag with water – or I use a filled plastic water bottle that fits in the cistern (tried bricks once, but they dissolved and made an awful mess!) – submerge it, and you’ll save a litre everytime you do have to flush, but won’t lose water pressure.

  10. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    Hey Chiara, that is sooooooooo clever! Love it. Going to fill up the bottles this morning. Doubtless the Tanzanians will think I’m closer to insanity than they already did but a litre a time is alot; enough to rinse my hair. Thank you.

  11. R. Sherman Says:

    Amazing post.

    I am a lawyer for a public water district which gets water from the Mississippi River. We actually hope that people will water their lawns to get revenues up.

    Cheers.

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