Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The water outage on New Year's Day

Apparently, in '06, a water main in San Angelo broke, and the water for most of the town was out for a whole week. It was Christmas.

This year, the 42" water main that broke on New Year's Day only knocked out the water for 70% of the town and only for a few hours. Maybe 12 hours. A day at most for some people.

After that we were told there was a 24-hour boil notice; so for the next 24 hours, we boiled all the water that we were going to use for cooking, ice-making, and cleaning dishes. (The last part was my addition to the paranoia.)

Sarah was actually at the grocery store when the water outage happened, and the place apparently went a little crazy--people who had lived through the '06 outage were grabbing gallons of water off the shelf as if, well, as if they lived in a drought zone with a massive infrastructure failure. I picture it like the cockroach episode of The X-Files. ("War of the Coprophages"--and yes, I knew that without looking it up.)

This all had a relatively painless resolution: sure, the water felt a little weird for the next day or so, but no serious harm was done. (I skipped a shower because the water felt more oily than usual--usually the water here has a hard, salt-metallic edge. I imagine, when the reserve is used up, we'll find a lot of pennies buried under there.)

But it does raise the specter of waterlessness that may be the future of this region of Texas--or at least, it does for those apocalyptically inclined like me. (And how can you watch the Iowa Republican Caucus without being a little apocalyptic?) Will we soon be shipping all of our water in? Boiling and reclaiming the water from organic sludge? I heard of a rancher that had to sell his livestock because of the drought around here. There was a burn ban in effect this summer and the barbeque sets around here are still wrapped up in plastic. What else will change here as things get drier and drier? Ugh, this is depressing. Is there any good environmental news for Texas?

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