Sunday, September 15, 2013

Boil order

This has been such an odd weekend... More time for contemplation than I probably needed, actually change that to wanted. Sometimes I think society has spiraled off without me and I am left puzzled wondering when I dropped out. Anyway, the ground is still under my feet and reassuringly solid, so I keep plodding along living out my day. I was enjoying a bit of knitting companionship at the yarn shop when I heard there was a "boil order" for all tap water. If I had had my cell phone turned on I would have received the city voice mail notification and hour earlier, but then you know I am not particularly keen on being constantly connected.

 My local community is getting to experience a generalized lifestyle "inconvenience." A major water-main has broken between Saint Louis & Saint Charles and since the Missouri River runs between our cities, possible contamination is a concern. You might remember the distinct visual ick factor when we had flooding this past April and let me say the smell, along with the black gunk left behind were truly disgusting. I think drinking river water would definitely imperil your health.

The emergency order requires a 3 minute boil for drinking water, no dish washing (unless you want to do them twice) as well as restrictions on lawn watering and indiscriminate usage. The extremely hot and dry month of August has plunged the Midwest into serious drought conditions. The drought is why Saint Charles needed water from Saint Louis in the first place, our wells are low.

Quarry Pond at Elephant Rocks State Park, MO. Deep water/dry land.
Isn't it amazing how we can take such a valuable resource for granted? Or be irritated because of the inconvenience of boiling water. It is obvious many of my fellow Saint Charlesians don't even have bottled water at their homes since the grocery shelves have been completely emptied.Yet in many places around the world, water doesn't flow freely from a tap, it must be found, transported and purified before it can be consumed. At a hauling weight of about eight pounds per gallon, I am thrilled my tap still supplies water, the city engineers could have just as easily shut it off.

It is clear that unpredictable weather and resource limitations may be a significant factor to impact our lifestyles in the future. The tragic flooding in Colorado this weekend, the horrific effects of Hurricane Sandy last year on the East Coast and now, the potential Dust Bowl conditions recurring in the Midwest certainly give us examples of weather/environmental disasters, along with their effects on populations. In some situations our lack of preparation for disaster may be more devastating than the event itself.

We have some emergency supplies in case of a tornado put aside in the basement, but what if water or electricity was out for a week?  I am not a survivalist, just commonsense prepared for the short-term but this minor situation has really made me think about the impact a long-term utilities shut down would create.

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