Wednesday, February 12, 2014

water woes

Water has sometimes provided an interesting and unexpected challenge for us here in the North.

First of all, it's somewhat scarce, given the fact that we're sandwiched between a rock desert and the salty ocean. The ground is too frozen from permafrost to lay down water pipes, so our water is delivered to our house by truck, from the aptly named Water Lake.  They usually do a good job of providing water on a regular basis, but every once in a while our timing is off and the water runs out.

I've mentioned before the Northern experience of running out of water.  Once in a while, you'll wake up, wander over to the bathroom and realize that you're out of water.  Then you'll hear the low grumbling of the water truck's motor nearby, growing fainter and fainter as it pulls away, and you'll send your poor husband out of the house to run across the street in his pajamas in -40 degree weather to chase the water truck down and service your house. It's a good exercise, in terms of survival skills, but also, actual physical exercise.

When the water truck disappears around the corner, and you trudge back to your house feeling a little defeated, you'll then make calls to the hamlet office, leaving your address, hoping that they'll be able to find your place despite the fact that 1) your street has no street sign and 2) your house has no house numbers.

Eventually though, the water truck will come, as will the sewage truck driver.

and then sometimes this happens.

Besides being relatively scarce, there's also the quality of the water.  I'm not a particularly picky person when it comes to the taste of my water, so when we first moved here, we just drank from the tap. Then someone pointed out to me that most people drink filtered water here, because, well, "How often do you clean your water tank?" she asked. (Our answer is never, because it's located in a different unit.) "Also," she said, "you realize that we have no control over the cleanliness of the water up to the point it reaches our house?"

There's no denying that the water is...different. The best evidence of it is the slow death / early retirement of Herbie the Humidifier. I have no idea why, but I had decided to name the humidifier that pumps enough moisture in the air to keep our guitars happy. Herbie's been working hard for the last year, but lately he's been having a hard time catching up.  We re-fill it every day and clean it out every week, but I guess after all the hard water that we keep dumping into him, he's getting ready to give up, after working overtime too long.

For drinking water at home, we use a Brita filter.  Two of them, in fact, one connected to the kitchen sink tap and a Brita pitcher.  Despite the double filtering process, Herbie has still been struggling, and our kettle gets these little floaty bits in them. Needless to say, we have to change the filters more often than the box recommends.

The water in our office is generally too weird-tasting to drink straight.  We don't bother putting them through a filter, because we'll go through the filters way too fast. Usually I just bring bottled water from home. Sometimes, though, if I'm particularly thirsty or forgot to bring my bottled water, I have to drink the office water.  That gets to be more of a process.  I have to boil the water in the office kettle. Then I pour it into a mug.  Then I put the mug in the fridge for a few hours to cool it down.  By the time I've got my drinking water available, it's time to go home. So, I try to remember to pack my water bottle to work.  Hopefully a blizzard doesn't ever hit while we're at work, with no drinkable water...

Basically, we end up using the kettle a lot. Boiling water is the simplest safest way to go.  Like I said, though, if what you want is cold drinkable water, rather than hot boiling water, it becomes a bit of a process to cool it down. Luckily all of outside is one giant freezer.