Saint Ambrose

Saint Ambrose
Photo: Journey Worker Productions, CC SA 3.0 (C)

Monday, 17 February 2014

The water tank, and precious water

We water the plants where I am using a water tank, a large one. But last week it went dry. Between the veggie garden and the gardens proper, the tank went effectively dead about a week ago. 
I'd foreseen it but hadn't done much about it, hoping for a deus ex machina I suppose. 

Last Friday, I went and bought a second hand, ex-wine barrel from a suburb north of here. It holds, I would guess, 180 L . I noted that the car parks of my apartment have no connection to any water tank, so I could augment water from there with the barrel. I also started greywatering pretty heavily. It seems to be OK. 

Tonight, for the first time in a week of hot weather, we had 0.6 mm of water. This has been the January pattern - a hot week, followed by a break, and a few mm of rain (two periods of 5 or 6 mm, and 2 of 1-2 mm. So only 4 rain days, with some very hot spells of +40 deg for 5 days (4 of these consecutive), and about 1/3 of the month above 30 deg. So there hasn't been much water around to harvest, and lots of heat to evaporate it.

So the tank emptied. On asking, it turns out the tank only diverts half the rainwater into the tank, because it was filling too quickly! So the body corporate are considering putting in a flexy system for tank water capture, and putting in a flexy divert system for the car port water.

Great. But I should have seen this earlier.

And today it rained, and I had a barrel, and no way to capture the rain, because I couldn't open the piping and grab it. And there were no places with a run off stream I could grab. So a place that will be completely dry again for a week naturally had a good concrete and metal soak, and all that water was wasted.

And, I'll have to water with grey/scheme water.

Really frustrating.

Especially when I realised there were no run offs, or inconvenient ledges for pedestrians with a streamlets off any roof, or anything that wasn't twee, and neat and controlled, to bring the water from where it landed to put it in the gutter in the ground. No natural puddles or anything. 

And, suddenly I saw the whole picture - we have domesticated water and made it invisible, and it is now something that arrives in a tap. From somewhere. Whenever we want; forever. We trust.

Ok, you are thinking: whats wrong with scheme water? For plants it is not optimal because, the story goes, it is purified with chlorine. Chlorine is bad for microbes in soil, and bacteria (thats the point of adding it to drinking water), so it is bad for plants. (Hmmm...that explains why they keep dying on my--Rick.) It is also just stupid to water with scheme when *with a bit of planning* I could have fresh rainwater.

One is also keeping a nasty big corporate engineering firm in business. (I have no idea whether they are nasty - I have no idea who Melbourne Water uses to run its water schemes - probably some engineering/infrastructure conglomerate aggregated from various 19th century public works quangos, with a few johnnies privatised in the last 30 years). (Cal, did you talk with our solicitor about this before we posted your rant?) The point is not the who but the what - it isn't subsidiarity to let rain go and rely for your garden on Water Corp.

Don't get me started on the ridiculous desalination plant our city built. Crony macrocapitalism of the sort that is so common it is dreary.

Then there's my suspicion about chlorine. I haven't looked this up yet, but I have no doubt about what I'll find. So I haven't. (That's very open minded of you Cal.) The problem is that I am prepared to bet without looking that they don't just use chlorine in the water to kill the bugs but much nastier stuff now. (And, you say that I'm paranoid...and, I am.) But the water comes out dandy for drinking, and that's all we care about. (I like it for showering as well.)

My father had the experience of going to a swimming pool, and noticing that they were using Ozone (O3) and some bromine thing to purify the municipal pool water. He then asked the techies about this, and asked about the addition of (now redundant) chlorine. They confirmed that yes, the chlorine had stopped effectively killing bugs in the 1980s-1990s due to microbial adaptation, and now they'd fallen back to O3 and bromine, but they still added the chlorine so everyone could have the experience of chlorine in the pool water, so they would all feel safe, and no one would feel like there was a really nasty environmental problem behind their consuming the 'pool experience'. So long as tradition was held up, and things looked and felt like they did 15 years ago, then everything would be happy. Whatever the little tech-elves did in the background to make that experience happen, was OK and worth it.

I know that if I look into the situation of mains water here, I will have the same experience of peeling back the shiny floor-linoleum of the results of corporate organisation, and will see the cockroaches and mould of reality behind things. 

I already know from a bit of looking into this years ago, there's a mild(?) issue with xenoestrogens, and with residual neurological agents  (eg people's kidney- excreted prozac) and reproductive agents (eg contraceptive pill residues), and other endocrine disruptors in the mains (Sounds like an Aliens movie). I don't want to think about them. And the politico-eco-conversational dynamic will be the same - everyone will say its fine, no worries, we've sorted it out, there are no creeping or catastrophic consequences of the system we have built up. 

And, like the gay marriage debate - the establishment will never declare one of two sides of an exhaustive truth: either the establishment know all outcomes that will result from its policies, and all are benevolent or at least worth suffering for the policy outcomes, or there are possible unforeseen outcomes they haven't put into their calculations.  In simpler terms, they won't complicate things by talking about the as-yet-unknown-unknowns (hmmm...this sound Rumsfeldian), the stuff that we get intimations and glimpses of but not enough info on to be able to make an argument that's not just an appeal to ignorance. 

So, just keep consuming at the Green logo supermarket or the Red logo supermarket, and vote for the Red logo or the Blue logo party and everything will continue to be wonderful.

I didn't want to think about this stuff, and go through the same patterns of argument, so I'd ignored it. 

But, the rainwater depletion has left me with no choice but to realise this action of holding it in abeyance is exactly what I'm doing.

I hate having this drawn to my attention. I hate that I knew this in December and didn't do anything.


(Here I go, postscripting, can't let it go - I mean, people all used to have water tanks here, until the Govt made everyone remove them to make mains water a viable proposition in terms of dropping the price per user down by increasing load share. There is no water crisis, if we got rainwater tanks, and didn't farm using techniques that are basically land-energy-nutrient-mining, using a plant-crop's reproductive cycle as the mining tool. I think I will stop typing before I go semi-insane).

[Dear Reader, please remember that the bloggers are Catholic and guilt is a big part of our ethos. If it is too much for you, take the blogs in stages. I have visited our contributor and can confirm that he has survived his water self-torture treatment. RH]

No comments:

Post a Comment