Imagine a Day Without Water Essay

Updated: Apr 7

An Essay by Donna Stephens, Proctor Creek Stewardship Council

As a child I spent many weekends with my extended family in rural Alabama. My parents were born in a small community and we visited often. Summer vacations Spring breaks and holidays were full of love and happiness. However, we experienced water shortages regularly. Both of my grandparents lived near creeks and other sources of water. The communities did not have city water hook ups then. Wells supplied homes with water and septic tanks were used. Some families relied on outhouses.

The weather predicted the amount of water accessible to us. The winter months brought freezing temperatures and my maternal grandparents lived a few hundred feet from the creek. During these cold months the well pump would freeze and water did not pump into their home. Bottled water was not available then. So we were at the mercy of the elements.


The summer months were a challenge as well. The Alabama heat caused water sources to dry up and made wells empty. As the older grandchildren, my cousin and I would go out to the well with buckets to get water. The buckets held only a few gallons of water. A short walk to the well but only a miserable amount of water would be available. You see the summer months meant a house bulging with people. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins galore. There was cooking, cleaning and hygiene to do. My female relatives were tasked with the job to keep things afloat.

Ironically my cousins and I would slip away to the creek and enjoy the cool water. We didn’t/couldn’t drink the creek water.

I have vivid memories of these water shortages. I recall going to the laundry mat to wash clothes and watching other community members filling containers with water because they had no water in their houses.

With creative wisdom we were able to maintain daily life during these water shortages. Sometimes these water episodes lasted a day, a week, or more. Rarely did we have the luxury of a full bath in a 2.5 bath home. Perhaps this is why I respect water today.

Today these communities have city water hook ups and wells are a thing of the past. I smile because one of my father’s older brothers refuses to drink the city water and buys bottled water instead. One of my aunts loved to visit during the summer and always enjoyed drinking water here in the South.

You see a day without water is not a problem in some distant land. No water shortages are a global concern and the reasons for this occurrence is varied. Water equity is something we must all strive for. Your next door neighbor may have a problem securing safe access to water.

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