It’s my plumbing’s fault I failed

Here comes Thanksgiving! One thing I’m thankful for is you, my supportive family and friends, especially during last week’s fast.  Results of the fast: almost $1000 donated to my work specifically, $30,000 raised overall for Engineers In Action by all the fasters combined, good guidance and reminders for me (see the prayer page), a little crabbiness from low energy, and fascinating observations on water use.

I consider myself conscious of my resource use, but limiting my water use to 70 liters/day was much harder than I expected. Using online tables of water use per activity and also measuring our own faucets, I tracked and estimated my use on a “normal” day. The next day I tried to limit it… and failed! I kept forgetting- it’s so habitual to turn on the faucet fully, and flush the toilet every time. I was over 70 L before lunch!

The next day, during the fast, my shower was only 3 mins, I only ever used a trickle of water, I switched to the flushing rule “if it’s yellow, let it mellow; if it’s brown, flush it down” (yep we’re getting personal), and also wasn’t eating so didn’t use water for cooking, dishes, or other cleaning. Success! Right around 70 L.

First thought: How the heck do some people use so little water? I didn’t clean my house, couldn’t wash my hair, don’t have animals or plants, don’t grow my own food… Indeed I have a resource for answering this question; with Engineers Without Borders I had gone house to house in Simajhuleu, Guatemala to understand and quantify water use. I dug out those surveys, and the per capita use was 10-100 liters/day. Big difference: lack of plumbing.

Second thought: Having a sewer system is key… this is also an excuse I gave myself as I struggled to limit my water use. WAIT. Soon, most of Konani will get a sewer system. After that, the 70-80 L/day/person that is recommended for communities of their size will probably not be sufficient. So far, I can’t find past studies or guidelines how sewer affects water use, but somehow we’ll have to do serious research and calculations to understand by how much the water demand will increase if part of the community gets plumbing. I expected spiritual guidance and peace during the fast, but not such a practical realization/piece of guidance!

Next week, I’ll have another experience of constrained water supply: staying in Konani for four days at this medical clinic, which at times doesn’t receive any water. I’ll be hosting my first team from the U.S.: four professional engineers who are leading the design team for Konani. I can’t wait to welcome them to Bolivia and dive into this project together!

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One thought on “It’s my plumbing’s fault I failed

  1. Pingback: Hit the Ground, Conserve Water | sharing adventures

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