SoCS — Water, Water Everywhere

Yesterday, fellow blogger Marilyn Armstrong posted a rare — for her — piece of fiction. She wove a yarn about a woman named Maggie who had received residential water bill in the amount of $5,000 dollars. The water company claimed that she had used half a million gallons of water even though her modest house that she lived alone in was on a 6,000 square foot plot of land and had just one bathroom.

Marilyn’s yarn reminded me of something that happened to me when my two kids were quite young, so in the mid-eighties. But the story I’m about to relate to you is not a piece of fiction. It’s not a fanciful tale or a charming yarn. It is a recounting of actual events.

It started during a particularly severe heat wave. Temperatures were hovering in the upper nineties for days. Late one afternoon I came home from work and took note of how green our front lawn was when all of the other front lawns in the neighborhood were brown.

I walked into the house through the garage and saw my wife in the kitchen putting the final touches on our dinner. I kissed her hello and then said, “I just noticed how green our lawn is.”

She looked at me and smiled. She said, “Well, you know how hot it’s been, right? So I put out our lawn sprinkler and the kids have been playing in the water in the front yard in their bathing suits to cool off. They have such a great time and, as a bonus, our grass is beautifully green.”

I honestly didn’t give it much thought after that, especially since the heat wave had finally broken a few days later and the daily sprinkler games had ended.

Before I continue with my story, I have to remind you that this took place in the mid-eighties, when the costs of gas, electric, and water utilities were very inexpensive compared with those utility costs today. I must also point out that my quarterly water bill at the time averaged around fifty dollars.

So when I opened up my water bill that arrived about three weeks later, I was shocked to see a quarterly invoice for about $800. Like Maggie, the protagonist in Marilyn’s yarn, I called the water utility company and complained that something was wrong. They said they’d look into it and they even sent someone to my house to check the water meter and to check the system for leaks.

The meter was fine, I was told, and there were no leaks in the water system. But there was a span of about six days — days that happened to be coincident with the severe heat wave from about a month earlier — where my water usage had spiked to around ten times our home’s average daily use.

After hearing what the water company’s findings were, I asked my wife to remind me about that period of time when she let the kids play in the sprinkler. “How long each day did the kids play in the sprinkler during the heat wave?” I asked her.

“I don’t know exactly,” she said. “I’d turn on the sprinkler probably mid-morning and turn it off by late afternoon. Why do you ask?”

I told her about our $800 quarterly water bill and told her that it was about sixteen times more than our typical quarterly water bill. And then I told her how much water we consumed during that period when she had the sprinkler going for most of the days during the heat wave.

My wife got a very confused look on her face. She then said to me, “I don’t understand how this could happen. I thought we only got charged for the hot water we use.”

This true story was written for Linda G. Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt, where we are asked to use the word “yarn” in our posts.

21 thoughts on “SoCS — Water, Water Everywhere

  1. Sadje June 5, 2021 / 5:32 am

    That would be nice if people got charged only for the hot water!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Taswegian1957 June 5, 2021 / 6:17 am

    We really take water for granted until something like that happens. We once had a huge water bill like that and it turned out that we had a leaking underground pipe. The water company, a government agency was very good about it though and gave us a refund in the form of credit. That was their policy, you got a one time only reprieve in certain circumstances. We had no way of knowing that pipe was leaking.
    The other thing that makes you take water use seriously is living on tank water as we do here. If it doesn’t rain enough we have to buy water. The water doesn’t cost much but the tanker that transports it does.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Fandango June 5, 2021 / 7:17 am

      We are in the midst of a drought where we live, so few take water for granted right now. They have imposed water restrictions locally.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Taswegian1957 June 5, 2021 / 7:32 am

        Oh, that’s not good. I hope you will get some good rains but I know your climate is rather like that of South Australia so I guess it might be a few months. I hope it won’t be a bad fire season.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Taswegian1957 June 5, 2021 / 7:39 am

          On the subject of droughts we get them in parts of Tasmania too. One time my sister was doing a cleaning job at a farmhouse in her area and while cleaning the toilet it failed to flush. The farmer happened to come back to the house while she was still there so she told him. He said “%#*@ sheep have drunk all the tank water again.”

          Liked by 2 people

        • Fandango June 5, 2021 / 8:51 am

          They’re predicting another bad wildfire season. Maybe they’ll be wrong.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Taswegian1957 June 5, 2021 / 7:04 pm

            I hope so. We were lucky last summer and did not have as many big bushfires as the previous two years.

            Liked by 2 people

  3. Maggie June 5, 2021 / 6:29 am

    That’s funny. I remember when we had a water leak in our front yard. Not only did we get charged for the water usage, but we had to pay a plumber to fix the broken pipe.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Marilyn Armstrong June 5, 2021 / 7:03 am

    That reminds me of people who write checks when they have no money because they were told it was a “free checking account.”

    Now that we live using our own well, we pay (these days) about $250 every year and a half to get our septic system pumped out. Water is free, but since everyone has to live using the same underground aquifer, many people need periodic reminders that “your well” is not your personal well to your own special water. So if you use a lot more water than is reasonable, your neighbors won’t have water. Which I’m pretty sure that in some areas is a hanging offense.

    In a normal world, people would understand this but we aren’t living in a normal world.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. RuthScribbles June 5, 2021 / 7:06 am

    Oh oh. Here in Texas-remember snowmagedon? Folks that had no electricity were charged thousands of dollars. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙇🏻‍♀️

    Liked by 2 people

  6. rugby843 June 5, 2021 / 9:12 am

    Great story, but remember the regulated times and days of outdoor water use tules? I’m glad not to have that headache AZ my longer

    Liked by 2 people

  7. rugby843 June 5, 2021 / 9:13 am

    Sorry. It seems my replies today are plagued by two capitalized oddities, TV and AZ😳🙄

    Liked by 2 people

    • Fandango June 5, 2021 / 10:39 am

      Yeah, my comments are occasionally haunted, too.

      Liked by 2 people

      • rugby843 June 5, 2021 / 10:53 am

        If you want a relaxing afternoon don’t look at CNN

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Marleen June 8, 2021 / 10:08 pm

    I enjoyed this story, every bit of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. leigha66 June 13, 2021 / 10:29 am

    Sprinkler fun for kids can be very expensive!

    Liked by 2 people

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