Slice of Life – New Water Tank

August 29, 2023

“Argh, Lori! Look at the water!” I shouted to my sister, as I ran the noodle pan to the living room to show her the brown gunk that just came out of the tap. We were fixing Thai food for my sister, my brother and his wife on Sunday night. “We got a load of water on Thursday! How can it be out already!?”

Oh, yeah. My sister had warned us that this almost-forty-year-old tank was vulnerable because it was about the same age as a tank that was leaking at one of her houses. We didn’t do anything about it until today, when we were forced to. We were almost finished preparing a six-pot dinner (we definitely would have had a different menu if we knew this was coming), but now we were committed. We all ran out to check the water tank, feeling the side of the tank for the water level. Unlike the usual phenomenon, of the bare metal in the sun being very much hotter than the metal with water behind it, now the whole tank was hot! And empty. My brother left to buy some gallons of drinking water. My sister went and got ten gallons of water for flushing toilets. Then we proceeded with our meal (and games even). Afterwards, I washed a bazillion dishes camping-style, while my husband went to buy and fill some clean five-gallon buckets.

My husband and I were musing about what we would have done if we didn’t live close to these desert rat relative-friends. They have helped us navigate so many difficulties. We probably would have packed up and moved into town many times over the past two years. This time with having the water go out, even with their support, we are still on edge, feeling the vulnerability everyone on the planet feels when water is not easily accessible.

On Monday morning, we called Underground Economy Tank and Supply, who was recommended by the water hauler. Mike said he could bring a new tank out in the afternoon. What? Wow! But we had to put it off for at least a day The former tank, which was metal and now giving us rusty sludge, was set down on gravel. The new plastic tank will need to sit on a smoother surface, like sand.

So Monday evening, my brother came over to help us remove the old tank. He attached it to his truck with a cable and pulled it over pretty easily. I didn’t have my camera out when it toppled over because I was holding my sister’s dog. (The future of that water tank on its side in our yard is still in question.) It was obvious from the rust and pressure on the gravel below that there had been a leak for sometime, which caused a little stream through the gravel.

My sister came to help us haul sand from the intersection where cars get stuck, and we dumped it and leveled it in the frame. Now it’s ready for the new water tank to be delivered in the morning.

Thank you, Water, for your cleansing, life-giving presence. 

Our water supply for a few days
Disconnected water line
The 1985 water tank
Keith moved some of the gravel out and around the edges of the pad.
The rusting process was working hard throughout the bottom.
Can you see how the water moved the gravel under the tank to form a little river of leaking?
My sister shoveling sand
Keith joining the sand crew
We finished adding the sand by moonlight. After settling for a day, we’ll check it before the new tank arrives.


8 thoughts on “Slice of Life – New Water Tank

  1. This is a rich post in so many ways. The photo of the water having had its way with the rocks, forming its own path, speaks to the insane power of water ( a microcosmic example, but a cosmic one, too). I also think about your gratitude at the end for its “cleansing, life-giving presence.” I think about Flint every time anyone recounts lack-of-water woes. What a wonderful extravagance it is to run the tap. (I am conscious every time I do, as weird as that sounds!) I recall being in South Africa where the people I was staying with outside of Cape Town had a timer on their shower. I washed my hair with great haste and once in a small village on an island in Colombia, I ran out into an unexpected rainfall to wash the salty crust off. Water is gold! (The desert makes you aware more than most.)

  2. Denise, I love that the story of neighbors helping neighbors is still alive and well today. It reminds me of Oregon Trail times of westward expansion when families helped each other out. This assures me that history is still in the making with friendly neighbors and family members who help show us the way.

  3. Water is something we take for granted until we don’t have it. Amazing story of resilience.

  4. Denise, your slice is such a descriptive piece of writing. As I read through your thoughts, I kept thinking about how fortunate I am for the clean water that comes through my tap or the filtered water from the refrigerator. The terrain where you live is so different than mine. You are fortunate to have people interested in helping you and your husband solve this problem. I hope all goes back to normal quickly.

  5. I was on the edge of my seat! What a story! Your writing is so rich and your photos so evocative! As someone who lives in Michigan, surrounded by 4 of the 5 Great Lakes, and yet not a popular destination for young people to settle . . . I often wonder when the issue of water will drive more people this way. This is not to discount the horrible crisis that Flint, MI has experienced over the past few years with clean water. Water is definitely more of a crisis in the USA than people fully understand. Thank you for bringing it home!

  6. Denise, talk about Murphy’s Law! Quite an experience and what a story. Hope your new tank takes care of future water problems.

  7. What a sobering post, Denise! Water is truly life. I love how you call your wise helpers “these desert rat relative-friends” – how essential they are in your life! Wonderful story. Really important to think about. Thank you – and glad you have water. I’m also super impressed you were making a Thai meal from scratch. Yum!

  8. Denise, this was such a compelling read and made me remember just how many things we take for granted in our lives, like access to clean water. This remains a challenge in many parts of the world. I love how you thank Water in the end for its life-giving presence. And your photos are incredible!!

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