I was in high school during the last major California drought. I found it a very traumatic experience. Thankfully, we didn’t end up with a Dust Bowl, and we didn’t have mass starvation of the type one periodically sees in Africa. Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake the feeling that things could get that bad.
As a teen, I resented the imposition of water rationing. I found disgusting the whole “when it’s yellow, let it mellow; when it’s brown, flush it down” mantra. Truly, I felt that it’s my God-given right as an American to flush my stuff and, when I approach a bathroom, to know that you flushed your stuff too. My parents tried to save their lawn by catching the water from the last rinse cycle in the washing machine, but it died despite those efforts.
Our house was filled with buckets in the kitchen and the bathroom, and all non-carpeted floors were hazardous, since the act of shlepping buckets from bathtub to toilet or sink to plants meant that the floors were perpetually covered with drips. Step wrong and your bathroom turned into a skating rink.
As you’ve probably seen in the news, California is having another drought, although this one is worse than the last big one in the 1970s. (Interestingly, the last big drought coincided with the last big Polar Vortex. Hmmm.) The timing couldn’t be worse for my family, because we’ve already sunk substantial sums of money into a project requiring water, not to mention having signed contracts for that same project. It’s unclear whether the project can go forward. Worse, because of the signed contracts, we’re in a situation where we’ll still have to go forward with the least satisfying part of the project., which doesn’t require water. Blech.
What’s also fascinating (to me, at least), is how quickly I’m back in the groove of water rationing. I guess it’s like riding a bike — you never forget. I’ve collected buckets, I’m saving bath water, I’m saving hand-washing water for the kitchen sink to use when I need to run my garbage disposal, etc. I’ve told the kids that the only clothes that get washed are the genuinely dirty ones, that they have to keep their bathing to an efficient minimum, and that they can’t run any water while they brush their teeth. Oh, and my garden is dead as a doornail. My home looks derelict in the extreme.
We’ll get through this one, of course, but I’m not looking forward to the drought’s run. It’s depressing. Very, very depressing.