Reaching the Tipping Point

By , July 9, 2011

Several days ago I went up to the summer water tank to check its level. I found the water within a quarter inch of spilling out of the tank. The next day we started to get some rain, and we’ve gotten about a quarter inch since. I figured we were doing great, and decided we probably shouldn’t worry about the water level anymore. At this stage of the year, we’re likely to switch to the winter water tank before running out of water in the summer tank.

Or, perhaps not.

Yesterday I hiked out to meet Michelle, who would be hiking in from the road. I started early, so I had a lot of time to kill. On a whim, I dropped off the trail to have another look at the water tank. I found that the water level had dropped slightly from the last time, so I went up to the intake to have a look at things—the intake pipe might have clogged or something.

The intake pipe flows from a small dam under the creek bed to a bucket, which fills the summer tank. Taking the cover off the bucket, I found that it had about an inch of water in it. The creek bed was dry, as expected at this time of year. I went up to the swamp that feeds it, and found it dry, too.

This is nothing to worry about, but apparently we have reached the tipping point, after which the summer tank will not refill this year. That is, unless we get some pretty hard rains for a sustained period. Funny, but I have expected this long before now, and hadn’t been at all concerned, but now that it’s happened, it seems somewhat final.

This means that we should be able to make full use of the available water in the summer tank before switching to the winter supply. The winter tank filled up long ago, and will easily carry us from the end of the summer water into the wetter months. Even though it’s our smallest tank, the summer supply may see us through till freezing. We will very likely need to drain it this autumn, after switching tanks.

Still, I’m slightly unsettled by it. Maybe I’m feeling the same way I used to as a kid when, right after Independence Day, the Back to School Sales started. It’s an unpleasant reminder that the summer’s slipping inevitably away.


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