In our last post about getting settled, I mentioned that, thanks to Mark, we now have access to water all over the house. That was slightly confusing. Although we technically have all the plumbing in the bathroom and in the kitchen, this does not mean that we now have unlimited access to water. Even though we are only about 2.5km out from town, and that there are water lines to our community that everyone pitched in to dig after being promised water, they are not being used. Wells are very expensive and very difficult to obtain approval for, so there are no wells in our community either. This means, we and about 50 other families, have no easy access to water. The whole community complained about this lack of basic necessity, so as a compromise, a water truck is sent out once a week to give each family one free tank of water. Anyone who wants/needs more, has to go into town to buy it. For us, that one free barrel does not last two days, so we pay extra for the water truck to come back and fill up our cistern, This is still tricky because although half the time the water truck comes on Wednesdays, that isn’t always a guarantee. In fact, today is Friday, and we are still waiting for the water truck and when we buy extra water to fill the cistern, that water comes on a different day when they can make an extra trip out. Which means, we run out of water.
Getting our tank filled.
I’ve now been on a vendetta on figuring out where all our water usage is going. Maybe vendetta is too strong of a word and its incorrect usage besides, militant is more like it. I’ve been experimenting with the laundry. I took a load that I thought would be about what a washing machine would use and kept track of how many 5 gallon buckets of water I would use to hand wash that amount. I used 15 gallons of water. That is almost the same to up to half of what even a high efficiency washing machine uses. Yup, go ahead look it up. I keep the used water in buckets that I can then throw in the “backyard” area. Eventually we hope to have the water drain into something that we are growing…eventually.
Thinking more about our water problem, and being a homeschooling mom, I thought this would be a great math problem for the kids to work out. Peter figured out that the cistern holds about 1,200 gallons of water and that we are using roughly 133 gallons a day. Now this is for our family of 10 and the caretakers family of 3. That means 13 people are using 133 gallons a day. This does not include the purified water that we buy in the 5 gallon jugs. I was feeling pretty bad that we were going through the cistern so quickly especially knowing that we can never rely on when the truck will come with more. So I looked up online, how much water the average family in the U.S. uses. I was very astounded to learn that a family of 4 (that is mommy, daddy, and two kids) uses 400 gallons of water PER DAY. Go ahead google it. Toilets use by far the most at 27%, that’s like almost 15 gallons, every day!
Not only do we conserve water where we can, but we also try and make double use of what we can. Under our bathroom sink, we have a bucket that catches the water from washing hands, brushing teeth, etc, and we use that to flush the toilet. Only every now and then do the toilets gets a real flush. When we shower, we use the three minute rule. Get in, turn water on, get wet, turn water off, soap up, turn water on, rinse off. This really does not get hair very clean, so we are going to start washing our hair using a bucket of water. The water is freezing cold anyway, so no one complains about taking fast showers, and we only take a shower every few days.
In the kitchen, the sink drains into a place where we hope to grow a few vegetables, but right now the dogs like to sleep in it. The point is, we are trying to use as much water as we can twice, and that still doesn’t keep us from running out of water.
This week, Mark figured out that he can just go to the water department and buy enough to fill up our own tank to then fill up the cistern. He made 6 trips to town and it turns out to be cheaper for us to fill it ourselves instead of waiting for the water truck to come by. That means more consistent water, WOOHOO. The water department is right on the way to town, so any time during the week that Mark is already making a trip he can throw the tank unto the back of the truck and voila, water for the cistern.
Douglas setting up to fill the tank.
Well, this makes me pretty darn proud of our water efficiency and our ability to have water all the time, until I realize that our neighbors are even better at water conservation and they have less of a chance of consistent water. They use outhouses and buckets to wash up with. I turned up my nose at how they did not rinse their clothes till the water came clean like I try to do. Well now I understand why. Besides, maybe the smell of laundry soap masks the lack of bathing???
Barrels of all shapes and sizes on a horse drawn cart (see the first picture on this post) drive by our house all day long to get their water. During the rainy season, the locals are expert at collecting water, but 6 months of the year is the dry season. Today is hot and the water truck is two days past coming, so we decided to take around some water to the poorer families in our community. Mark filled up the tank 3 times which equals about 600 gallons of water and visited 5 families. I wonder, how long they will be able to make a little more than 100 gallons of water stretch.
Stay tuned for A Wedding in Nicaragua after April 8th. I’m very excited about this!