That Monday morning’s torrential downpour held the chance to lie in longer; rain delaying heat expected later that day. Enjoying extra moments, pets begged I serve breakfast so, I caved and shuffled downstairs. Freshening bowls and dispensing their medicine and food first, I finally pressed start on the coffee my husband teed up. It wouldn’t get to finish.
As digital clocks on appliances went black there wasn’t time to cool downstairs, nor heat coffee to boiling. Cold, partially-steeped and super-strong would do as I grabbed lactose-free milk from the fridge, pledging not to reopen it until power was restored. As neighbours exchanged theories – a lightning strike triggered the outage, fire-engine sirens could be heard racing across town.
Back inside, rinsing dishes, I discovered water beer brown. We routinely draw rust-ridden water into our homes, century-old pipe lifespans reached when we first reported problems in spring 2018. While winters seem better, warm weather has us whipping through filters like candy. E.G. when late June’s filter was overwhelmed (installed after area flushing) we fitted another July 10. It was overwhelmed and replaced July 29. By noon July 31 rust had overwhelmed that one; just 36 hours later.
Rust-fouled water isn’t drinkable as we called for city help. Answering minutes before a long weekend, Dan Collins ensured neighbourhood hydrants were flushed immediately, dislodging the rust bomb from intakes and clearing pipes for several days. But, not before being drawn into hot water tanks since we can’t know filters are full until they fail to block rivers of rust; an ordeal for my husband on his days off, cleaning out the sopping, residual mess.
As brown flowed in our bathtub August 9, post-concussion headaches and nausea prompted each time I must lean over – head unlevel, to clean rusty scum, we replaced filters once more; my husband now buying in bulk; $283.47 worth since installing another filter July 31… which lasted only eight days. Thursday, bathing before my medical appointment, bathwater ran brown again… another filter full.
That’s five intake filters to try – and fail, to keep water clean for a few weeks, plus kitchen faucet filters to double our chances of drinking water; expensive. And yet…
Belleville’s water department and environmental services, genuinely grasp our plight with conscientious concern, consistently responding cheerfully and repeatedly clearing pipes, if only temporarily. Dedicated staff are earnestly working on long-term solutions for which we’re grateful; they do sincerely care. And we realize we haven’t the worst infrastructure problems in our working-class neighbourhood; priority of resource allocation resting with city leaders who must finance the means to make delivery pipes potable safe. Because, in our corner of this world, we can still trust most civic authorities to troubleshoot and try toward remedies… rather than sporting self-interests.
So, as the hillbilly horker hurled, and fire-engines raced, absent air-conditioning on a humid, heat-warning day, craving hot coffee, and without clean water, I felt lucky; lucky to have glass in our windows, stores to buy water – and water filters, with proper civic remedies being passionately, professionally pursued… troubles expected to resolve significantly sooner than those of the Port of Beirut, Lebanon.
Or any northern Indigenous reserve in Canada.
Our problems pale to plenty on this planet; comparatively luxurious lives insulating us from many perils. Yes, some days are harder, but we have vastly more than most. My perspective amid profound privilege.