Friday, February 20, 2009

Water


This is from Commenter Breezeway's lovely Gwynn's Island cottage. Do you see that water? It's salt water, and it tastes almost as bad as the water that comes out of our spigots here. Speaking of salt, that reminds me of water softener salt, which is as essential as oxygen in Mathews.

Mathews County is well known for its abundance of waterfront property, but not for water that's fit to drink. Don't believe me? I don't blame you. So to help substantiate my claim, I turn to the Dept. of Agriculture's 1962 Mathews County Soil Survey, which everyone has in their home library. I'll wait while you go get yours, so you can follow along.

OK, turn to page 40:

"...In Mathews County, drinking water is obtained mainly from hell..."

Oh, sorry, that last word was a typo (arguably). Let me try again:

"...In Mathews County, drinking water is obtained mainly from wells. The water in creeks and rivers is salty and unfit for consumption. There are a few springs in the county; the best of these are in the higher terraces in the northwestern section..."

My parents happen to have a spring bubbling up on their property, right near the intersection of our lane and one of two main roads running through Mathews. In fact, just today when I was leaving to run an errand, I saw people out there on their hands and knees filling up plastic milk jugs with this eau de le gods. My mother and I have a ball making fun of this spring and the amount of time Daddy has spent getting it rigged just so, but the truth is that water is far superior to anything I've ever tasted coming out of a tap or even from the store.

So, to recap: I'd rather stick my face down into a ditch and slurp water from a "spring" than drink our well water. (By the way, well water is pretty much our only option. There is talk of us getting all hooked to some "city water" but so far it hasn't happened.)

Let's continue with what the government said about our so-called drinking water over 45 years ago:

"...The average depth of dug wells is approximately 10 feet, and the quality of water ranges from poor to good, depending on the content of sulfur, iron, salt and carbonates. Also, the water ranges from soft to hard, according to the kinds and amounts of minerals. Deep wells are more likely to produce hard water; shallow wells, soft water."

I have yet to find one single house here with soft water. Instead, we are laden down like pack mules hauling hundred-pound bags of water softener salt from the Best Value grocery store, into the house, into the softener system, only to have the water come out of the shower not only smelly and stinky, but capable of rendering a perfectly good head of hair frizzy, green and unmanageable.

Speaking of pack mules, water softener salt, unruly hair and unmanageable individuals, stay tuned for tomorrow's rip-roaring episode of Chesapeake Bay Woman's Guide to Water Softener Salt Procurement and Installation in 10 easy steps! Where "easy" is loosely defined as "so excruciating that I am convinced hoisting 800-pound bags of water softener salt will cause my untimely demise."

23 comments:

Grandma J said...

Oh this is good! I happen to prefer frolicking in Ocean water to any body of fresh water. It's just what I'm used to.

I remember well water that my grandparents had on their farm in MA. The kitchen sink had a hand pump. I don't know anything else about well water. I'm not a tap water person either. I drink from the heavenly well of Aqua Fina, but I'm willing to get down on my hands and knees to slurp some of your mom's bubbling spring water.
Can't wait for part two.

Annie said...

Ah, water softening...that takes me back to my childhood here, where we also used to have a water softener! The water here is quite hard...has been in several places that I have lived!

The spring sounds nice!

We used to have a spring bubbling into the river where we once lived in Darwin...and the kids used to like swimming in it...till the local doctor told us it was quite full of bacteria etc...as the water didn't get filtered in the usual normal way up there because of all the limestone (and sinkholes)! yuk!

Annie

Pleasing Procrasinator said...

Ugh..I remember growing up with well water, the taste wasn't as bad as what it did to my hair. No amount of salt in the softener would stop my hair from becoming a brassy-red-orange. I would get a new color and within weeks it would have this awful new color, it was awful!! Now I get a new color and within weeks I have an added gray tint around the face, what a vicious cycle.

As kids we would be gone all day in the woods and make our way to the creek where there was a spring where we loved to stop and get drinks. I had forgotten all about that. Thanks for the memory.

Anonymous said...

yes yes the smell rotten eggs was our first house but now its much better in the new house but we use salt like toilet paper!!!

Mental P Mama said...

Again, should we bring wigs to the blogfest?

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

GJ - I will let you taste our spring water when you're here in July, and I think you'll like it better than Aqua Fina.

Annie-I believe a little bacteria is good for you. I've worried that our spring water isn't filtered enough, but a local "expert" (my father's friend) tells us that there's so much sand it has to pass through that it's perfect. Let's hope that's true....

PleasingP - I can't tell you how much $$ I've wasted on hair color that only lasts two days before that well water ruins it. Very frustrating.

Anonymous - I know the smell!

MPM - Yes, and don't forget to bring your new cowboy boots.

mmm said...

So, according to your information, there was a spring at Elmford (my "rented" boyhood home on Stutts Creek). Someone used it to create a freshwater pond that was adjacent to the creek - the overflow from the pond drained into the saltwater creek. The pond was stocked with brim (sp), catfish and trout.

Until now, it was the only freshwater source I knew of that existed in Mathews - I even wondered if I wasn't imagining things. Thanks CBW, just a little more evidence to convince me that I'm not entirely crazy.

Val said...

our water here is full of calcium and minerals making it very hard. we filter for drinking although you can drink it - it just tastes salty. comes from a borehole. turns hair into a wire brush....lovely if thats how you like it :-) in Bots the river water is so soft its always a treat.
cant you tap into the bubbling spring??

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

MMM - I can't comment on the crazy part (most days it's hard for me to distinguish crazy from normal around here, in fact crazy IS the norm), but I can assure you there are springs in Mathews that produce great water. In fact we discovered a second one recently. The water is absolutely perfect - we've had people use it for formula for babies - that's how convinced they are that it's good.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Val - Your water sounds very similar to ours, only we don't have the salty taste - that's reserved for Gloucester, the neighboring county.

My father has rigged something up that collects the water, and the sand in the bottom "filters" it. We drive our vehicles there to load up our jugs, but so far nobody's routed it to the house, which I'm sure involves quite a bit of work.

Caution Flag said...

We're boring here: city water and all. But I was born in 1962 and I do thank you for referring to your 1962 info as "over 45 years..." That is now officially my age.

Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food said...

I grew up on a farm in the middle of Nowhere, Penna., and we had a bit ole water softener in the basement to take care of our well water. I remember my mom schlepping those giant bags of Morton's (I think?) down into the basement and trying to manhandle it into the softener thingy.

You see? If you still lived in Suburban DC, you could not only enjoy the delicious "city water," but also never be more than 4 miles from your nearest Baja Fresh, so you could feed your crack jones. I mean Mexican food jones.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Caution Flag - Let's do it right and say "over 30 years." Both of them are true, but 30 sounds better.

Meg - YES, that is what I do: schlep. YOu mentioned Baja Fresh and now I'm going to cry because the closest to Mexican in Mathews is Old El Paso in a box.

Anonymous said...

Ya mean there are parts of the country that still drink water that doesn't have fluoride in it? Your teeth haven't fallen out from decay and your brain hasn't turned to mush....so much for that great social experiment!

rc

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

RC - As a matter of fact, I've had tooth problems all my life, and the trauma associated with the dentist trips caused me to give up dentists entirely until recently...when I was forced to go to one to PULL A ROTTEN TOOTH.

So, to recap: As we speak about all the non-flouridated water I drank growing up, I sit here with a gap in the bottom back right row of teeth where a rotten tooth once lived, and which will soon be filled by something closely resembling a FALSE TOOTH.

(Hope your computer is back from the doctor.)

Anonymous said...

Coumputer isn't back yet. Sure am glad no ones sending me 'dirty' pictures....don't know if my daughter's computer could handle it :))

Autumnforest said...

One thing I remember the most clearly about our summer home in Newpoint--the water! When we turned the sink on the smell of sulfur took over the entire house. Even the ice trays smelled horrid. We'd remove it all and make ice with water we brought from our home in Fairfax. I wonder if they still have that awful water there? Ick! I cringe just to think of it. I guess even paradise has to have a serpent...

Karen Deborah said...

You are a riot. when I was in beauty school a girl came in that really DID have green hair. she expalined they had well water and copper pipes an amazingly horrid combination for hair. Hopefully you don't have both.
I wish I could come to your Matthews blog fest sounds like fun.
Um on all the water woes, we use a shower head from Ecoquest that filters all the crap out of the water, and we bought a reverse osmosis system that goes under the sink. But having fresh spring water that tastes good? Now that is a gift from God. I'm impressed.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

RC - You're pretty calm considering how long the computer's been hospitalized. I don't think I would have handled it so well...

Autumforest - I can practically guarantee you the water hasn't changed since your summers here. You were very wise to bring water from NoVa.

KD - I even have some sort of fancy filtration system but it still doesn't work properly and it doesn't work at all if you don't keep the water softener stocked with salt, a topic for tomorrow. You're right, though, the spring is a gift.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in Mathews drinking good tasting shallow well (spring) water. However, when we boiled that good tasting water, or put pans of it on the tops of our oil burning stoves to humidify the winter air, it left quite a deposit of calcite...which looked just like a couple of kidney stones I gave a very painful birth to one day years ago!

TSannie said...

I'm here in MO and just watched dad add a bajillion pound bag of salt to the water softener.
My hair is horizontal it's so frizzy.

foolery said...

I'm anxious to see what that water will do to my board-straight, non-colored hair.

Guess I'd better forego the highlighting before my trip, huh?

Tasha McKelvey said...

I grew up in Mathews, and I remember a friend once telling me that Mathews County had more wells per capita than anywhere else in the world . . .