Three weeks ago I walked into my bathroom to have a shower and was shocked to see The Bin waiting for me in the bathtub. I could swear it was smirking.
“Not already!” I whined.
It wasn’t hot. No plants appeared to be parched outside our front door. But my husband Michael clearly wasn’t prepared to see the garden hose tap turned on without a damn good reason to do so. We were back to saving our shower water again.
I nudged the 22 X 16-inch Rubbermaid tote, placed on top of a towel to eliminate skid possibilities, into what looked like the right position. I turned the faucets and pulled the shower lever, stepped in and had my first in-the-bin shower of 2016.
Once dried and dressed it was time to remember the method for getting the water out of the bin and into the buckets, but it all came back to me with the first sploosh and slosh from one container to another.
Our family became bin water babies during the 2015 drought after reading Ron Hawkins’ letter to the Driftwood that ran about a year ago. I know we were not the only ones who followed Ron’s suggestion to save water by standing in a plastic tote while having a shower. I’ve even thought we should honour Ron by giving the container a special moniker: something like a Hawk-bin, Ron’s Bin, Hawkins Tote, the Rainy Ronny . . . suggestions welcomed!
Salt Spring resident Peter Rowell addresses the same topic in a June 8 Driftwood letter to the editor. Like Peter, I remember thinking having a shower while standing inside a small container would be awkward, inconvenient and not worth the trouble for the amount of water saved. I was pleasantly surprised to find my assumptions were incorrect.
Not only that, but some sort of primal instinct is satisfied by hauling around buckets of recycled water to ensure one can grow vegetables, and it’s muscle-building exercise to boot.
For several years we have collected overflow water in the kitchen sink during summer months, but were largely motivated by wanting to avoid a hefty North Salt Spring Waterworks District bill, and a general aversion to waste. But except for servicing one small herb garden and some flowers just outside the door, most of that water went to keeping a patch of periwinkle alive so the deer could mow it down to stem level every winter.
Last year’s experience showed it was possible to do more than half of our summer garden watering with second-hand water, and the harvest was better than ever.
The drought and a Salt Spring Water Council-led rainwater harvesting push also made Michael finally use a long-dormant 50-gallon plastic barrel for rainwater catchment from our garage-workshop building. We scrounged a second barrel from my sister, and now have easy access to water for one more remote section of garden. Other people on the island took advantage of a Capital Regional District rainwater harvesting grant offered in the last year to get their systems in place.
As a born-and-bred West Coaster, I love the rain, and this past winter’s deluging periods made me happily giddy. At the time I thought all that water would eliminate our summer water worries, but the NSSWD’s water-quality specialist Meghan McKee killed that notion by advising in April that the levels of St. Mary and Maxwell lakes were about the same as they were last April. Winter rains filled up the lakes and they simply overflowed, with the excess water ending up in the sea.
People who use groundwater may have benefitted from all that winter rain, but if you rely on lake water to supply your daily household needs or to make your garden grow, it might be time for you to join Ron’s shower bin crew.