Number of People with Nothing Better to Do

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Water Usage

This was an assignment so it might be kind of boring.

I live about an hour and a half outside of Lima. Our community gets water every other day from 5:30 to 630 in the morning. The water comes from a well in the center of town which is pumped up the hill into a couple of water tanks and is then gravity fed to the neighborhood. The water at the house is stored in a 1,000 liter tank and a 500 liter tank on the roof of the house. The old man also gets up early to fill up a 35 gallon drum in the bathroom and a 55 gallon drum by the sinks in the courtyard.

The family is pretty frugal with the water. The toilet has been disabled so you can’t flush it the regular way. Instead you dip some water out of the drum in the restroom with a small bucket and pour it into the toilet and hope your junk goes away. Repeat as necessary (2-3 gallons for a good one?). I’m not sure how often my family takes shower because they seem to do it when I’m not around but it seems like once a week at least. (no hot water). Water from the 55 gallon drum in the court yard is scooped out with a small bucket and used to wash dishes, hands, hand washing small amounts of laundry, watering the plants in the front and everything else. Grey water from laundry is used to clean shoes and flush the toilet.

By far the biggest consumer of water is the washing machine which, according to the old man, can blow through the 1000 liter tank on the roof with 3 loads of wash. It seems like kind of a lot but the pay off is doing wash for the old man, daughter, and two kids and one dopey gringo in one day rather than hand washing everything over the course of the week. For the daughter who works during the day and goes to the Instituto at night, this is pretty key.

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