It flows, colorless and clear, weightless till you try to carry it. Each gallon tips the scale at eight pounds and change, a number that's abstract to most of us. Why should we know or care about the weight of water? This winter, our state's paltry rainfall has me thinking about water quite a lot. More precisely, I've been thinking about how much of it I waste.
There's some low-hanging fruit, and I've picked it. Most Californians know the water-saving mantra 'if it's yellow, be mellow.' Running the dishwasher and washing machine only when full, installing low-flow showerheads and toilets, and turning off the water while brushing teeth are easy too. Converting to drip irrigation and installing rain sensors on sprinkler systems is a little harder, but still in reach.
My house was built long before rainwater harvesting or grey-water entered the lexicon and retrofitting only goes so far. All the water I use drains into a septic tank, eventually leaching out into the yard. How much better, I thought, if some could be recaptured?
I bought buckets, small ones for the bathrooms and the kitchen, and a large one for the shower, and proceeded to collect water. Even being conscious of my usage, the amount I harvested each day was horrifying. When I carried it outside to lavish on my garden, its weight was a blow - and an epiphany.
I pictured Third World women lining up for water, jars and buckets on their heads as they trudge along a dusty path, miles from home. We just turn on a tap, and out comes clear, clean, life-costing almost nothing. Maybe that's the problem: it's too easy and too cheap.