We take it for granted that when you go to a tap and turn it on, out comes water. It does it every time so we tend to abuse it. But what happens when you get to a tap and when you open it, nothing comes out, not a drop. Living in a desert one quickly learns to appreciate the value of water, such an essential commodity.
A few weeks back two municipal boreholes weren’t functioning and our water storage levels were being seriously tested.
Not helping matters we were experiencing temperatures in the very high 40’s (i.e. 48s and 49s). The bush around us was wilting and leafless, the ground devoid of any plants and grass.
It was during this time that an old man, which does some work for us, brought me a 25l container and asked if I could get him some water. He lives just outside of town with no municipal water and no water in the area at all. The community there takes a donkey cart with water containers into town to get water, but now with the problems we were experiencing in town they were battling to get water and he personally had none.
25l: Let me quickly quantify that: I am sure that there are very few people reading this blog that could give the exact quantities of water used when flushing a toilet, washing dishes, bathing, showering, washing your car. When we go bush camping I work on 15l per person per day for showering and 10l a day for washing dishes. The 25l of water that the old man asked me for would allow for 1 person to shower and for dishes to be washed for a day in my camp. But this is all he wanted in quantity to survive on.
I took 25l from our dwindling supplies and delivered it to his kraal; he was over the moon with joy and couldn’t stop thanking me. All of a sudden his goats started bleating and came running excitedly, as they knew a container meant water. This was one of the saddest things I have ever seen and I was sure that the goats weren’t going to get much or any of the precious 25l.
I knew the old man had another 2 containers which I asked for, hell; we could spare 50l for the goats. Our tank was now critical, if we were going to battle, so be it, at least the goats were drinking. Hey, amazingly we survived. We had to introduced some water management: fewer and shorter showers, washing dishes only once a day, flushing when only necessary etc.
After a week of extreme temperatures clouds appeared on the Saturday, we could see them in the distance building and our expectation for rain was high. As quick as anything a hectic dust storm came through followed by rain – but as quick as it came, as quickly as it went. There was nothing to record in my rain gauge. We were bitterly disappointed.
A few hours later the sky in the north grew darker and darker. We actually stopped the film we were watching on TV and went outside to watch the storm. There was lighting which was later followed by the lovely sound of thunder. We did the counting thing and it was about 40+km away, a good chance that the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans were getting rain. Sadly the storm didn’t come any closer to us – we were still dry.
Sunday afternoon the clouds built again and then dissipated. Then that night we were woken by bright flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder, the rain had finally reached Letlhakane. It was absolutely amazing, music to ones ears and euphoric to one’s heart. When the sun came up that morning everything was wet and clean, it looked wonderful. We had had 12mm overnight.
This rain was followed by a storm on Monday evening that resembled something you see in horror films. The wind was howling, the lightning was intense and the thunder cracked all around us.
One bolt of lightning hit so close and amidst the sound of the thunder I heard a sound that resembled the noise of an insect being scorched by an electric fluorescent zapper. Our internet rooter had been frazzled. Least we were getting stunning rain. (26mm)
This was followed by 6.5mm the following day and then 6mm 2 days later, making it just over 50mm in 4 days. The trees started sprouting, which over a few days turned to leaves, grass started growing and wild flowers started popping up all over the place – the bush had been totally transformed and new life could be seen all over.
Kids were swimming in water being held by borrow pits – everything and everyone welcomed the rain.
The rain did not help the town’s borehole problems however, and we had a very worrying week, expecting to dry up at any stage. However I would like to praise the water board here in Letlhakane as they sorted out the problems and we now have water, touch wood.
It is really frightening having minimal water supplies and planning what to do if we were to run out. We have learnt its value and now only use it sparingly. Please think of the old man’s goats before turning on a tap.