In which being off the city water system suddenly became a very good thing

by DaniGirl on April 27, 2011 · 7 comments

in Postcards from Manotick, The ongoing saga of the house

Wow, I’m still in shock over the news today of a summer-long outdoor water ban for Barrhaven, Riverside South and Manotick. According to the news so far, the ban will prohibit not just lawn-watering and car-washing, but sprinklers and kiddie pools, too.

OTTAWA — The City of Ottawa is immediately banning on all outdoor water use in Barrhaven, Riverside South and Manotick, which is expected to last until as late as mid-August.

That means almost 27,000 homes in these south-city communities will be prohibited from watering their gardens, filling splash pads or pools, car washing or even running a sprinkler.

Nancy Schepers, a deputy city manager, told council Wednesday morning the ban is necessary as the city replaces the Woodroffe water main, which experienced its second break in January. There is a backup water main system that can deliver enough water for drinking and other normal indoor uses, but “it does not have the capacity to meet spring and summer demand.”

The ban is in place, said Schepers, to safeguard the quality and quantity of drinking water.

It was about the third time I re-read the article with exponentially-increasing dread and outrage that I realized — hey, wait a minute, we’re not on city water. So while I’m relieved that we’ll be able to run the sprinkler and fill a kiddie pool, I’m still disappointed that our favourite splash pad will be out of commission for most of the year and I simply can’t imagine not being able to even water the flowers for a whole summer. Wow.

And suddenly living on a well and septic system doesn’t seem as intimidating and fraught with peril as it did last fall. It’s nice not having the $60 water bill every month, and the quality of our water is amazing now that we’ve upgraded the pump, water softener and filters.

I’m still ambivalent about the septic part, though. Now that the snow is melted, I’m making an effort to pace the lawn around the septic bed once a week or so to make sure the ground hasn’t gone spongy on me. One of these days I may even stop flinching every single time I flush the toilet, so deep run my fears of a sudden catastrophic failure of our septic system.

Anyone from Barrhaven up for a weekend car-washing party at my house this summer? 😉

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Just An Ottawa Dad April 27, 2011 at 4:37 pm

I am so completely into that idea Dani.

Pick your charity. I’ll even pay to come.

2 SleegsSkees April 27, 2011 at 4:58 pm

I have a feeling this is going to happen in other areas as well or cities are going to start enforcing their standard water restrictions. In London we deal with a goofy odds can use outside water on odd days and evens on even days, but it isn’t enforced with and consistency. If you do that car wash the last weekend in May I’ll make sure that we stop by.

3 Marianne April 28, 2011 at 1:34 pm

No splash pads? Uh oh. I guess the ones here in Kanata will be twice as busy this summer!

4 Marianne April 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

Also, I suspect there will be a brisk business in rain barrels this spring.

5 Paula April 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm

We don’t miss being on city water or city anything for that matter and have no regrets whatsoever moving to the country. My heart goes out to all those in Barrhaven this summer however, especially if they don’t see a reduction in their water bills or their taxes while this *fix* is taking place.

P.S. Lots of rain barrels for sale at Home Hardware and Canadian Tire stores out in the Perth and surrounding area!

6 Mary @ Parenthood April 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm

What I find the most interesting is the huge difference in summer and winter numbers. Our water usage is pretty consistent regardless of the weather.

I don’t have a pool or hot tub, but I do have a larger than average vegetable garden, particularly when you consider that I live in the middle of the city. We have lawn, but we rarely water. We discovered some years ago that if you let your grass grow longer, it doesn’t need as much water to look ok. So last year I cut it twice (really!!) and watered less than half a dozen times.

If I had to get by without outdoor water it wouldn’t be the end of civilized life or anything like it. I don’t understand all the angst (I mean, yes it would suck not to be able to use your pool all summer, but it would suck more to have to boil water every day and actually, we are pretty lucky that we HAVE good water. That we don’t have to carry on our backs 6km each way or whatever the 3rd world country stat is).

I’m actually a little embarrassed that our city reaction to “no outdoor water” is wailing and gnashing of teeth. And I also don’t get why there are lots of people complaining that they
didn’t get earlier notice. Nice to get notice before planting gardens starts in earnest, but otherwise why does it matter when the ban starts? Telling people prior to the ban sounds like an invitation to stocking up on water usage, which is what they are trying to avoid in the first place…

But I am just as glad I’m not affected

7 Sasha May 3, 2011 at 2:57 pm

What used to freak me out about water, living in Fitzroy, was that no power = no pump = no water. Power outages aren’t really that unusual. And to complicate matters in our case, the septic was pumped out of a tank in the basement, so no power meant no septic either.

When we had to get the septic pump fixed, the plumber told us that if there had just been one or two more layers of cinder block in the foundation, the pump would not have even been necessary (the septic bed couldn’t go any deeper – we were on solid rock). One of those things I wish our inspector had mentioned – I thought this was just how septic worked.

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