Posted by PDG David Simmer

A Water Emergency

Imagine learning that a water emergency has been declared in your community.  In a matter of hours the community’s water supply is going to be shut down for fourteen days for critical system repairs.

You rush to assemble every possible container for water.  Local stores report that every viable receptacle has been sold.  You will have to work with what you have.  You fill every pot, pan and bucket you can find before the water goes off.  If a container is sketchy, you clean it as best you can.  You fill the bathtub with water.  It makes you queasy to think that could be drinking water, but you resolve to address that later. 

You need to set priorities.  Clearly you will need to rethink your #1 use of water….bathing.  No running water — no showers.  Sponge baths will have to do.  The water can be warmed on the stove.

With any luck drinking water can be purchased.  But the reality is that with the sudden city-wide emergency bottled water will be scarce, rationed and expensive. 

Your heart sinks when you realize the dishwasher is a useless hunk of metal and plastic until the water returns.  Dishes will need to be hand-washed.  You identify a small tub for washing dishes and another for rinsing.  The rinse water will become wash-water for the next round of dish-washing. 


Every use for water is re-examined.  Washing clothes will be an time-consuming and arduous task if the water is off for much more than a week.  Of course because of the coronavirus regular hand-washing is critical.   You set up a bowl of soapy water for hand-washing and another for rinsing.  You note that you should change those regularly.  Even teeth brushing will need to be recalibrated to preserve water.

Toilets and human waste disposal will require some planning.  A flushing bucket has been installed next to the toilet as the collection point for water awaiting its final service.  A new adage haunts the neighborhood:  “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.  If it’s brown, flush it down.”  

Each day you wake up wondering if your remaining water supply is going to last long enough to see running water return.


Welcome to life on the Navajo Nation….....except the part where you think your water will return.

For more information or to support the Navajo Water Project, contact D.5495 Rotary IPDG David Simmer at