The talk of the town – the talk of the state! — is the rain, glorious rain! Here in California rain is a big deal – and no more so than with the past three years being the driest three-year period since recordkeeping began. Ramon and I were in Paso Robles a few months ago and learned that in Cambria, a little town on the coast a few miles from Paso Robles had nearly completely run out of water. I can’t imagine having to drink bottled water because there isn’t enough water coming out of the tap!
Yet here at Reverie we haven’t felt the drought at all. It’s as if we are living in an alternate universe. I grew up in the desert (Reno) then moved to the Bay Area shortly after college, so I have lived my entire life in a place where you have to conserve water. It’s impossible for me to leave the water running while I brush my teeth, or while I soap up my hands, or to flush the toilet any more than necessary. Our household water comes from a spring that bubbles out of the ground – it just keeps running down the hill whether we use it or not. If we do use it, it goes into our septic system where it leaches into the ground and is then filtered by the earth as it permeates down to the groundwater. And we have at least two other springs on the property we don’t even access – they just create year-round streams that nurture the wild blackberries.
During the summer months we have “water rights” to an irrigation ditch that runs through our property– we pay a very nominal rate for what’s called a “miner’s inch” – the equivalent of 11 gallons of water per minute running 24/7. If we don’t use the water it just keeps flowing by until it dead-ends a few miles beyond us. It’s just an open ditch about 5 feet across that carries raw (untreated) water from a reservoir about 30 miles away – it isn’t lined with a pipe or concrete, so the water leaks all along its length. The ditch is located at the top of our property so the water leaks through the hillside and down through our gullies, filling our ponds with even more water than we pay for. And we couldn’t stop the leakage even if we wanted to unless we lined the ditch in some way. Our little water district is pretty cash-strapped so I don’t see them lining the ditch any time soon.
To top it all off Reverie seems to be situated in a bit of a rain pocket – during the 2013/14 rainy season, while everyone else was having an extremely dry year, we recorded nearly average rainfall (which is around 40 inches) that included 13 inches of rain in one weekend! It’s as if the clouds just sit over us and stay for a while, lightening their load before they head up over the mountains. This season we’ve already received about 15 inches and it’s only the beginning of December.
All this is to say it’s been quite a shift in perspective to suddenly have more water than we know what to do with. I was able to water our vegetable garden and fruit trees all summer without restrictions or higher fees, but I still can’t bring myself to flush the toilet every time. I guess water conservation is just ingrained too deep in my psyche.