Milo Yield: Laugh tracks in the dust 4-30-12
Water – clean and plentiful – is the lifeblood of rural America. Rural Americans, including those in small towns, use and need water from rivers, small streams, springs, ponds, lakes, watersheds, wells, cisterns, underground aquifers, marshes and rural water districts. Without good and plentiful water, rural America dries up agriculturally and economically.
At various times in my youth, we ran out of well water entirely and had to haul water for our household use. Cleaning out the cistern, which captured the rainwater from our gutters, was an annual, and unsavory, activity. My job was to go down a ladder into the murky depths of the cistern and sop up the final bucketsful of water we couldn’t dip out from the ground.
On occasion, the dregs in the water contained the remnants of dead critters that had fallen into the cistern. On occasion, I even had to catch live frogs and snakes who were making the cool cistern a home. My final job was to scrub the cistern walls with a broom and chlorine water.
Another distasteful job wuz pumping well water for the hogs, chickens, cattle and garden with a hand pump. Nearly every day, I got to experience the back-tiring drudgery of pumping several barrels or tanks of water. Needless to say, I got tired of those jobs. I well recall my personal joy when our family installed electric pump jacks to do the pumping.
Which brings me to the subject of rural water districts. Ol’ Nevah and I are lucky to have Damphewmore Acres located in a rural water district. We consider having pure water constantly available at the tap and hydrant a real luxury, plus being able to flush. In my case, I guess that’s because I grew up living on hard well water, in some cases even with a tinge of sulfur in the water.
The bad luck of our rural water district is that it was installed in 1973, in the times before track hoes, motorized rock saws, horizontal drills, and good quality plastic pipe. The result of our aging water lines is constant leakage (and money loss to the district) from the old pipes.
Luckily, and hopefully, help is on the way for our district. Thanks to the hard work of the folks who volunteer as our water district board, our district has a good possibility of being able soon to replace most of the aging water lines with higher capacity pipe, thanks to a low-interest loan and a rural development grant. If the upgrade happens, it will have the potential to bring renewed economic life to our county.
With plenty and reliable rural water, folks who want to live in the country won’t hesitate (from water issues) to live there. The result could be more rural homes, more property taxes collected and more kids in our schools. All that would be a good thing.
I recall a news story I did at least four decades ago, back when I actually worked for a living, about the economic benefits that derived from the first commercial water district in Kansas. The district was formed in Mitchell County in north central Kansas around Beloit. Water for the district came from the at-that-time-new Glen Elder Lake.
The bottom line wuz that the new water district immediately wuz a boon to all sorts of new economic activity in Mitchell County. I think the same story could be written about rural water districts across rural America.
And, before I leave this subject, my hats off to the folks who volunteer to serve on water district boards of directors. It’s another of those absolutely thankless rural jobs very similar to serving on school boards, watershed boards, cooperative boards, city councils, county commissioners and chambers of commerce.
As the folks on Hee Haw used to say – SALUTE! As Larry the Cable Guy says, “Git ‘er done!”
And from my friend, Jay Esse, in Loveland, Colo., comes this funny story.
A penny-pinching old rancher was lying on his death bed. Among his many physical frailties were cataracts in both eyes. He wuzn’t blind. He could see light, but had trouble distinguishing faces.
In a frail voice, he said into the void, “Honey, are you here?”
His loving wife replied, “Yes, dear. I’m here.”
Then he said, “Are all the children here, too?”
One of his children replied, “Yes, father. We are all here, too, right by your bedside.”
That’s when the old man roused himself to a half-sitting position and yelled as best he could, “Then why are all the lights on in the living room and the kitchen? You wastrels!”
Well, I hope you don’t think I’m all wet from writing this column about water. So, I’ll close with a few words of wisdom about water from, of all people, the retired boxer Muhammad Ali. He said, “Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams – they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do – they all contain truths.”
Have a good ‘un.