More Waterworks: Scottish Showers & Desal

After that last post I thought I’d try for something more pedestrian.  (Please bear with me, I really love that word & will no doubt use it alot.)  So, here’s a question: how often are you in the shower, blithely standing under our pretty-much-always-running-water-on-demand, & all of a sudden you’re flooded with appreciation for hot water?!  for running-water-on-demand, period?!  Then, shower done, the everyday self full of that luxuriant water-flowing-over-the-body appreciation, now, you have the added bonus of turning down the hot water, upping the cold, & finishing off with a cool rinse …aahhh…. we are lucky.  & a cooler head after a shower means a cooler head throughout the day, imho.

Anyhow, that’s how I learned to do it when I lived in Munich at age 20.  It’s officially called a ‘Scottish shower‘ and there are endless permutations – mine’s the simplest version.  I spent alot of time today trying to find a good scientific link supporting the healthfulness of this hot-then-cold habit, but I guess no one’s found it’s worthwhile spending scarce NIH dollars on shower research – too bad.  I still can’t get husband R to try it – of course his head’s pretty cool already.

So – water.  Fresh clean water on demand. Water on our changing planet.  We know that convenient access by humans, plants & other creatures to the water we need and want will become an increasingly challenging & stressful proposition into the future.  97% of the water on earth is saltwater in the oceans.  Of the 3% that is ‘fresh’ water, 2/3 is locked up in glaciers & ice caps (probably not for long though).  Most of the rest is groundwater. Surface water sources, which most of us rely on for fresh water, constitute only 0.007% of the total amount of water on the planet.

Right now, I’m watering my garden because it’s after 5 pm & the day’s water restrictions dictate that I can do that now that the sun’s going down.  Here in our seaside region of Santa Cruz, California, two of the local water districts are collaborating on plans for a water desalination plant to ensure that we have water available into the future.  This proposition is controversial and there are currently competing efforts to put the matter on the ballot. Interestingly, even though the anti-desalination group – which includes many long-time friends – is called Right To Vote on Desal, significantly less than half of the people who are actually customers of these water districts would be able to vote on the project.

Desalination is becoming a more viable option as coastal regions throughout the world face a future of more people, more need to grow more food, and increasing competition for that 0.007% of earth’s water supply.  The big downside seems to be the high energy requirements & associated energy costs.  This is a key issue: easily available, non-renewable energy resources are also going to be in significantly shorter supply into the future.  In our area, the relationship between water availability and growth at the local University of California campus is also a concern.

Because I live outside of the city limits, I already pay more for water than City residents who will be able to vote on this.  Like most of us, I make some, but probably not enough, effort to conserve this precious resource.  The real questions are: am I willing to pay more for the privilege of continued access to fresh-water-on-demand? &, if and when water becomes more scarce, am I willing to give up my garden and my Scottish shower?

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4 Responses to More Waterworks: Scottish Showers & Desal

  1. Tammy says:

    I have done away with all but desert plants in the front of my home but have serious grass that needs watering in the back. I’m thinking that at some point, it’s gotta go.

    • liveoaklinda says:

      Hi Tammy – yeah, lawns are kind of a thing of the past in drought-prone California. We have a very small ‘grassy knoll’ with a birch tree in one corner of the front yard, which has turned out to be a fun, kid-friendly play area, different from the patio & back deck. A sunny area of the old lawn was replaced by raised bed (really raised, as in 18″, a nice height for aging backs & for sitting too) for vegs in the winter & dahlias in the summer; I plan to build another one in the backyard for veg year-round, after I get around to taking out a colorful but overgrown marguerite…now there’s a vigorous drought tolerant plant!

  2. Pingback: Waking Up to Water | the everyday primate

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