On July 13, I wrote about how my husband, Kevin, and I weren’t going to let fear of an outrageously high water bill keep us from quenching the thirst of parched plants this year. Well, that bill finally arrived in the mail the other day.
... Maybe we should’ve been more afraid.
Intellectually, I understand that municipal water systems installed more than 100 years ago are overdue for replacement and upgrades. As a conscientious citizen, I am willing to pay my fair share for purified water conveniently available from the tap. And, as a compassionate steward of the environment, I place a high value on generational equity: Protecting and preserving the Seneca Lake ecosystem is paramount.
Still, a water bill more than three times higher than normal is hard to swallow.
Recent mandated improvements at the city’s sewer treatment plant translated into higher bills for many residents. Until now, though, Kevin and I have escaped relatively unscathed because of efficient, low-flow appliances and plumbing fixtures throughout the house. Our regular usage is so minimal, that the increase hasn’t been a drain on the budget.
This summer’s usage apparently wasn’t so minimal.
What’s especially galling, as Kevin pointed out, is that none of the extra water we used ever received sewage treatment. So the rate, calculated by how much water we drew, doesn’t correspond to how much dirty water we flushed away.
After staring wild-eyed at the total, we sighed and tried not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Because that oh-so-costly life-giving nectar did not go unappreciated.
• Baskets of peaches — our first ever — were so sweet and juicy. For days, Kevin peeled and sliced golden globes for breakfast, for lunch, for dessert. He even left a few for me to freeze for a winter treat.
• Bushels of tomatoes — our most uniform crop yet — were solid red beauties that made mouth-wateringly delicious sauce. The San Marzanos filled row upon row of pint and quart jars lining the cupboard shelves. And we enjoyed cherry tomatoes on salads, with dips, even alongside cheese and crackers.
• More peppers than I can count — red, orange, hot, sweet — are now cored and chopped into nearly two dozen quart-size freezer bags. For months, I’ll be able to make chili and taco soup and Spanish rice with abandon.
• Nine fruit trees are still alive and — hopefully — stress-free enough to make it through their first or second winter. Some even grew enough to need aggressive pruning.
We also have to remind ourselves that the rest of our bounty survived the drought on gray water from the kitchen.
And, some of our charges, like the grapes, already have roots deep enough to make it through without help from us. The fruit trees will eventually be able to do the same.
So for the future, when drought looms, we need to adopt efficient, low-flow strategies for the garden.
Or else live in fear for every October....