Bringing Water Home

A few weeks ago I received a flyer about an essay contest on Communicating about Water. I decided to tell my unique story about water and thought I would share it here as well.

“Water, it’s a scarce resource,” may seem like a common environmental slogan, but in my home it was taught in a very primitive fashion.  Water is not always easy to access at the turn of a faucet handle. Granted understanding the better management of water is always important but on the other hand water creates a story in the trials it can present. Sometimes those inconveniences, carve out a place and time in my memories that I will not soon forget.

I grew up in a little farming community about two hours east of Yellowstone and not even five minutes from the Montana border. There are two spot in the road towns with nothing much more to brag about other than population signs on one side of town and the other. The rest of this basin area has scattered mail boxes of many farmers. Nine months out of the year the dirt and sage brush offer the most scenery but in the spring when the ditches are open the farmers grow anything from crops to livestock.

What most might not know when flying down the highway leaving Wyoming for Montana, is most the farmhouse scattered to the right across the highway cannot use the groundwater. That’s right we are literally from the stone age. The alkalinity of the soil contaminates the ground water making it undrinkable. Why did everyone decide to move and establish their family farms in the area – maybe it was the availability of ground? No matter the issue, the houses must have water in the cistern.

I don’t know when this began for the other residents much older than me, but all my life water day was an exciting day. Every household in this little area, own a large cylinder plastic tank, that either rides either in the bed of a truck or on some sort of trailer. Depending on the constant need for water some families owned 500 gallons and others 1000 gallons tank, to haul water from the water station 5 miles away in Deaver. If the family has livestock, they generally hauled water for their corral as well.

It was always important to make sure the water level did not get to low in the cistern and cause the pump to intake air rather than water. Our house usually used 500 gallons just a little under three weeks. We gather up the roll of quarters from our mother’s kitchen hutch, jump in the truck with our dad, and head off down the road. The watering station took about 7 quarters to fill the tank. It was also important to remember the exact amount of quarters that would fill our particular tank to the top. Too many quarters and the water runs over into the bed of truck and it is a mad dash to the emergency shut off.

These days are the best memories of home from my childhood. At a young age I learned the importance of conserving and managing the use of water in the home. Driving to get the water was the best part because the whole trip to town was on dirt roads. Dirt roads meant dad let me drive the truck, which I learned to steer at age 5, but let us be honest I was “driving” of course. Water taught me the daily necessities of home at a young age – water conservation, money management, hooking up a trailer, driving a truck, and always remembering to remove the water hose from the tank before driving away.



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