If you've not yet had your coffee, you may want to drink it before continuing this post. This is one of those posts that may squick you out. Then again, if I didn't lose you at the Wall O' Boogers, I prolly won't lose you now. Just in case though, consider yourselves warned.
This post is actually one I've been toying with for a while, but some comments yesterday from the newest redhead in my collection, Braja, coupled with the timing of this article I ran across yesterday evening convinced me that it is time.
Today's subject is water. Specifically, my 'choices' of water here in my little corner of Paradise.
When we bought the houseboat, we still had property and a home in Vancleave. What we weren't really aware of until we tried to sell the property is that it was on wetlands. This will be significant as my story unwinds.
We did not intend for this houseboat to be our home. When we bought it, we were really just trying to find a place where we could go on weekends with our deckboat without having to go through the hassle of launching it and taking it out and launching it and taking it out, which is a huge pain in the arse what with having to completely wash it down each time it is taken OUT. *thinks about the Grandpa shaking his head at that sentence*
We knew when we bought the houseboat that our only source of water was the river. At the time, I did not think about the implications of this since we were really just camping when we were here. It didn't take long, though, for us to fall in love with this river and the life we were finding on and in it. We are not teenagers walking around with rose colored glasses, however, so that love was tempered with just a little shiver of revulsion. For soon after we started staying on the houseboat overnight, we realized that not only was river water being pumped into the houseboat, it was also being flushed right back out into the river. AND ALL THAT IMPLIES.
We would have put a sewage treatment plant on our houseboat if everyone else would, too. But they are very expensive, and most of our neighbors can't afford to. We even tried to push the issue (which in retrospect was not that bright-some folks out here are quick to shoot and ask questions later). The Innocent Bystander called the EPA, the Bureau of Marine Resources and the Coast Guard, but no one would admit that this was something that their department could deal with. I have done some online research and know that this issue has come up in reports that are made on the river's 'health', but I think everyone wants to try to ignore it until it goes away. *shakes head*
Now, normally I'm not that squeamish. I mean, really, when I think about some of the things I've put in my mouth, I have no call to go all Miss Priss on anyone's ass. But when you get out of the shower and have to make sure no one's going to say "Hon, c'mere. I think you have a little bit of turd right here in your hair," you have to really close your mind to some things if you don't want to have nightmares. I really loved being out here, and hated driving forty minutes every day to Vancleave to shower, so I convinced myself, as I'm sure everyone else who lives out here does, that animals poop all over the place and it runs into the river every time it rains and it doesn't bother anyone. We swim upriver all the time in fish poop water. When we camp, we wash our pots and pans in the river and reuse them the next day. If I can tolerate all that, I guess I can tolerate this. So we used a lot of paper plates and plastic cutlery, and pretty much moved onboard.
But there was still El Juevo to think about in Vancleave, and two acres of grass up there that had to be cut on a regular basis. The Innocent Bystander was back in Venezuela by this time, and it was getting to be a real pain in the buttocks running back and forth, so when I saw the little house up the road go up for sale, I called the realtor and set up an appointment to see it the next day. I put in an offer as soon as I saw it, and the owner accepted our bid, so I put our property in Vancleave up for sale and it was sold within ten days. It was actually sold the first day I listed it, but the guy who wanted it stipulated it couldn't be on wetlands. That was when we found out about that, and also that the water would not pass the health department test. The second offer we got on it was aware of that and did not care. SO.
SO. We get our health department test on the little house's water back and find that IT has some kind of coliform bacteria in it. We also find after a week or two that it has a peculiar rust bacteria in it that stains our tub, sinks and toilet a beautiful shade of burnt sienna. It is a brand new well, drilled post-Katrina, and the health department told us to run the water for a week and that that should clear it up. Since we had no choice in the matter (the place in Vancleave was already sold and the houseboat is too small for all of us) we decided that ignorance is bliss and have since then just taken it on faith that the water is okay for bathing in. We've used bottled water for all of our cooking and drinking at both places since the storm. What is so bad about that since evidently we've been using water just as bad in Vancleave for the last ten years?
Fast forward three years. I've been bathing at the house for the most part, although our washer on the houseboat used river water. Our neighbor gets this new boyfriend from 'north Georgia' and he is just completely freaked about the water situation. He is bathing in bottled water. Guess he's not had as much stuff in his mouth as I have. Anyway, he and the Innocent Bystander have this bromance going, and he talks the IB into putting in a well for us to share with the promise that he would build the pumphouse etc (didn't happen, but that's another story). We get the first well drilled. They go down 150 feet and hit SALTWATER. WTF??? So they have to redrill, and as the IB didn't want to spend any more money on this than he had to, he only had them go down 50 feet this time. They got 'fresh' water this time, so they stuck the pump on and here we are. I start running our new, fresh water that is now going to my washer, my sink, my shower and my terlet and discover that we have a problem. Evidently we have a very high hydrogen sulfide content in this 'fresh' water, because it smells like FARTS.
There you have it. My choices are poopoopeepee river water (and let it be noted I do not eat ANYTHING that comes out of this river!), coliform/rust bacteria water or fart water. Is it any wonder I will travel anywhere, anytime? Or that I fantasize about a nice long HOTEL bath? (I bring my own cleaning products and Calgon!) Third world countries have nothing on us!