I decided to revisit the topic, as Sunday I got inspiration from the most unlikely of places- a water outage that left us without running water for nearly the entire day.
So- running water- need or want?
Usually when I do this type of thing, my modus operandi and way of looking at things is- did our ancestors live without these things for thousands of years (like telephones, cell phones, electricity, running hot water, internet), and if so, they can't possibly be needs, even if they make life much more convenient and are still a good idea to have.
|Devastation in Japan. Heartbreaking.|
I thought for a good while, and then concluded that while my foraging knowledge would definitely be a boon, we most likely wouldn't be able to survive on wild plants alone, because other than the few types of nuts I'm able to forage, as well as olives, most of what I am able to get, while nutritionally dense, is very low calorie, and without a lot of protein or carbohydrates.
That in turn inspired a talk about whether we'd really be prepared in case of a disaster, and we discussed what things we should stockpile- just 'in case'. Rice and beans immediately came to mind, as they don't take up so much room, don't require refrigeration, are very filling, and are high both in carbohydrates and in protein.
The only question was- if disaster should strike, would we have the water needed to cook those foods?
Living With No Running Water- Even For a Day
Back to Sunday, and the very frustrating water outage. I woke up in the morning to an awful clanging in the pipes- the toilet was trying to refill its tank, but as there was no water available, the result was a head splitting ruckus.
I needed a drink, but couldn't get any. Tea, coffee, powdered milk, lemonade- all required use of tap water to prepare- water I didn't have. I quenched my thirst with the only 2 things available- some juicy oranges, and some rather expensive grape juice which we had been saving for a special occasion, but had no other choice- a person needs to drink, especially someone like myself who is dehydrates easily, especially someone still nursing the whole night long (yes!!! I'm trying desperately to night wean, but most nights I'm too zonked to do anything about it).
Breakfast was the next challenge of the day. All my usual choices were out. Eggnog, milk shakes, pudding, oatmeal, cream of wheat, pancakes, muffins, bread- all required water to prepare. Without water, we were in trouble.
Fortunately I have amazing friends. As I was figuring what to do (going to the Mom and Pop's pushing two kids in a stroller up a large hill- without having had anything substantial to eat or drink- and I'm hypoglycemic to boot- sounded like a sure way to get me to pass out), my friend called up, discovered my plight, and brought over 3 bottles of water from her sink. Apparently they only had shut off water on my street; she had more than enough water to share.
Once I had some water, I was panicking a bit less, was able to breathe more easily and decide my plan of action. I had three bottles to last me the day- what could I make that needed little or no water, so we could save what little we had for drinking?
I discovered in my freezer some barley I had cooked a few weeks back, and frozen, because I'd made too much. With that, I served a stir fry made with all different types of veggies I had in my fridge and freezer that didn't require washing, either because they were peelable, or because I had washed them already (from beets to cabbage, onions to orange rinds, and carrots, edible flowers, and frozen green beans) and topped with sesame seeds. It certainly was an odd meal, but was filling and tasted decently enough.
That evening, when our water finally was turned back on, I was thinking about how much easier my day would have been if I were anyone other than myself. I would have probably had at least a case of bottled water, soft drinks, soda, or juices. I most likely would have had milk, store bought bread, cereal, canned and frozen veggies and beans, chicken, cheese, etc... all of which can be prepared with no water. My extreme frugality means that I rarely have these things in my house. Most of the foods we eat are bought in bulk, and dehydrated in order for them to be shelf stable (powdered milk, mashed potato flakes, noodles), or are water free in their unprocessed form (rice, flour, beans, lentil). The typical water filled vegetables in my house are foraged, and require a good scrubbing in the sink before eating.
Cloth diapers also need to be washed with water. As do our non disposable dishes and baking pans. I use water for so many things other than drinking.
A frugal life needs water, and lots of it, even if you try to conserve as much water as possible.
But is running water really a necessity?
As I said above, with most things in life, if humanity lived without something for thousands of years, and if people continue to survive and thrive without it in less civilized areas, then those things can't possibly be necessary for survival.
Running water, unfortunately, is completely different. While it shouldn't be necessary, society has made it a need for our very survival.
|An old fashioned well.|
Today, most communities aren't built around water sources. Locations are chosen for a large variety of reasons, but with plumbing available to bring running water to homes, there doesn't need to be a spring, river, or lake right nearby. In some areas people do use well water, but even they are not like they were in the past- they're typically pumped using electricity, to provide running water for people in the area. Not at all like the old fashioned wells which used your own muscles, that can work even without electricity.
|Haiti Earthquake Victims|
I recently found out that there are some old fashioned wells in the vicinity, but they're hidden so well by those who dug them (they're on public land) that I would have no idea where to even start looking for one.
I have to face it- without running water, I'd be royally screwed. This concept is dreadful and frightens me, because I do live in an area prone to disasters, both natural and man made. What if, what if, is what runs through my head. What if I didn't have to go just a few hours without running water, but needed to survive long term without?
|A rain barrel in position|
We don't have a yard and we don't really have a place to store a rain barrel on our 20 square foot front porch that we share with our neighbors, but I'm tempted nonetheless to get a rain barrel. Somehow. Even though there can be months between one rainfall and the next, and a rain barrel wouldn't hold enough water to last us throughout the dry season.
When we get land of our own, or at least live in a place with some semblance of a yard, I want to get as many rain barrels as possible, because otherwise, running water becomes a dire need.
Oh, did I mention- because I dehydrate really easily, lack of water freaks me out?
In the meantime, I think I'll be filling as many bottles of water as possible and store them in our “little room” in our house, so I never get caught without water again. And pray that I never have to worry about going without running water for a long period of time.
In summation- running water? Definitely a need; our very survival depends on it because of lack of access to fresh water sources and wells.
Where you live, do you know where the nearest body of fresh water is? If you ever had to go without running water, how would you manage? Do you store water in a rain barrel, stock bottled water, or anything like that in case of a disaster?
What percentage of the foods you make and things you do require water? If you had no water for a day, what foods would you make to serve your family?