Overview

Action Plan

Teacher Resources

Student Resources

Other Resources

About the Author


Author's Note:
Three Days Without Running Water

Somers, NY, June 12, 2002: Last Tuesday evening, a dangerous storm blew through our area. It brought with it torrential rain, hail, and lightning. The lightning struck near my home and caused a good deal of damage. Neighbors lost their electricity for a time, some lost TV sets, and we lost our well pump. Unfortunately, we did not realize that the pump was not working until our daughter took a shower. Suddenly, the water changed from clean and clear to smelly, brown, and yucky. The water was coming from the bottom of our water tank!

We called a company to fix it but because it was already evening we had to wait until the next day. We gathered all the water jugs we had in the house and filled them with fresh water at a neighbor's house. Then we arranged to take showers at her house the next morning. So that took care of water use for personal needs for a while, but we realized we had another problem, just how were we suppose to flush toilets without water? That can get unsanitary, but luckily we have a pool in the back yard. We were able to bring buckets full of pool water in to refill the toilets.

So the next morning we packed up towels and fresh clothes and took turns walking over to our neighbor's house to shower. We used water from thermoses to brush our teeth. Fortunately the company returned our call early that morning and they were able to replace our pump by mid-afternoon. We still did not have clean water because the removal of the pump and the torrential rains had stirred up the bottom of the well and the water coming from the well was cloudy and brown. The company had chlorinated the water so that bacteria would not be a problem but only time could take care of settling the water in the well and removing the water's awful smell.

That evening we again gathered clean water from our neighbor's house and arranged to share their shower again the following morning. We ate sandwiches so we didn't need water to cook. Meanwhile, the dishes were pilling up in the sink and the dirty laundry pile was also growing. During those three days there were many ways that we realized the importance of clean running water. I want to put you in our family's shoes for a moment and share some of the ways we realized how important clean running water is. 

Every day we needed fresh water to do the following:

  • Brush our teeth
  • Shave
  • Shower
  • Shampoo our hair
  • Flush toilets
  • Make coffee
  • Add to instant oatmeal
  • Make ice cubes (very important when it's hot outside)
  • Cook dinner
  • Clean a spot of pasta sauce off a white shirt
  • Wash dishes
  • Wash pots and pans
  • Wash clothes

It was a long three days here without clean running water! I can't imagine living like that every day!