Skip to main content

Paper plates and plasticware: modern day life without running water

By Joanne Beck

You just bought your first house, which has a 16-foot well, and that works sufficiently for your family and your 250-head dairy farm for a few years. Then in 2007, the well goes dry.

So you drill it out and go down 65 feet and hit water. You’re good again, until 2013, when the well goes dry again.

Then you have to go down 125 feet at a cost of $75 per foot. You strike water and are good again, but only for another five years. In 2018 the well goes dry permanently.

That happened to Bethany Town Supervisor Carl Hyde.

“So my wife and I went for one year without water,” he said. “I had to go buy a 250-gallon water tank, and had to go buy a trailer to put it on to haul it and drive it to either Pavilion or Stafford to fill it up and back it up in my yard to my well.”

The well sucked up that water into the house and used it just for the toilets. Additional water was needed for drinking.

One’s lifestyle most definitely changes without running water, he said. You microwave your meals, eat on paper plates and use plastic cutlery. Showers are taken at obliging family members’ homes, and dirty clothes are taken care of at a laundromat.

There’s no turning on the tap, hopping in the shower or taking anything for granted when it comes to a steady stream of that liquid gold labeled H2O.

The Hydes tracked their water-related expenses and spent $2,200 in one year. They are now on public water and pay $40 per quarter. They have walked the walk and can empathize with the town residents who are now wrestling with the effects of an excessively parched Mother Nature.

Out of 665 households, some 350 to 400 “may have water,” Hyde said, and at least 100 do not, plus some dairy farms and businesses. He has applied a second time for a state Water Infrastructure Improvement grant and is anxiously waiting to hear back about approval or denial.

There is another option — a USDA loan of $5 million at 3.1 percent interest to shore up a previously obtained $16.5 million grant to meet a new project total of $21.5 million for District 5. One thing’s for sure, though, he said.

“That’s going to raise the cost for public water,” Hyde said.

A straw poll would be taken of the 400 District 5 residents, and 51 percent have to say yes for it to be approved. Yes would mean they get public water, but it would also mean paying more due to the increased project cost and paying off that $5 million plus interest over 30 years.

On the other hand, there’s the option of doing nothing and having no water at all. That’s an existence Hyde does not wish on anyone. 

“Until you live that ugly (experience), you don’t know. I’m not saying my house is a mansion or anything, but, you know, even a $100,000 house is great, but when you have no water, you can’t sell it; it’s worthless,” he said. “And life is miserable.” 

Authentically Local