The Most Important Convenience in your Kitchen?

What’s the most important convenience in your kitchen — Microwave? Refrigerator? Blender? Cookstove? Coffeemaker?

Someone asked that question awhile back in a blog and then pointed out: Running water.

Bet you didn’t think of that one. I sure didn’t. We take running water in our homes utterly for granted. Until it’s not working. And then we see how much we use water conveniently running out of the tap.

100311_faucet.jpgRecently our kitchen faucet developed a persistent leak, so on our day for in-town errands, we turned off the water supply, removed the faucet innards, and went for replacement parts.

But first, I filled up two big pots with water, as backup at least for teeth-brushing and for drinking water when we got home late that night.

Glad I did. Using the water in pots, we made it through breakfast the next day before Robyn swapped parts. Sure enough, they didn’t fit, so we’ll be back for round two (this is collapse practice, remember?). She reinstalled the originals (which stopped the leak, interestingly) and turned the water back on.

Now, that wasn’t terribly painful because we didn’t use water for showers or  toilet flushing (for that, we use buckets of rainwater collected off the eaves in winter, or shower water held in the bathtub in summer). Nor did we try to make soup or wash the dishes.

And it wasn’t terribly painful because it wasn’t off for a long time, and we’re water frugal. We figure we use about 10 gallons a day between us, as opposed to 192 gallons per person for the average California household (note: no garden watering here.)

As backup, I have about 10 gallons of distilled water for filling the solar system’s batteries. They could be used for drinking water in an emergency. Not nearly enough for a week’s use, though.

Think about what it would be like to be out of water for a week. A break in the main, storm damage, a longer power outage.

What would it take for you to be prepared for a week without water?



  1. Tom Schneider says:

    During our 6 years of living off the grid on the BC coast in the 1970’s we used a gravity rainwater system with the cistern on a platform at the roof’s gutters. When it didn’t rain for awhile, first the kitchen fauct stopped working (waistlevel) but there was still a hundred gallons we could haul to the sink in bottles or buckets that made for more conservative use. We had a downstairs showering area and typically fired up the hot water heater and all took showers or baths when a rainstorm came to flush out the remains in the cistern and start the cycle over again. We had an outhouse (with red wigglers in in it )so never toileted inside.
    I remember some long dry summer periods when many in our community of back to the landers would load up in an open pckup and go to a nearby river to bathe after a long day of house-raising or gardening. I loved those times of a clear break from the work day and the cold baths in a clean river and the community feelings that insued.

  2. My first thought was water, then I switched to fire. I lived for a while in a small cabin where all my water except drinking came from the roof (asphalt), and I cooked on a 2-burner propane stove. Of course maybe the most important convenience was the car I used to bring the spring water, or the 5-gallon buckets I used to collect the rainwater.

  3. Stuart M. says:

    I stayed at a few communes in Romania where we had to get water from a well. I soon learned the value of having water on tap. Washing yourself in the hot summer with cold well water was kind of fun, but cooler weather sure made bathing unpleasant. Here close to our neighborhood is a park with a sizable pond in it. I definitely have to get a decent water filter to filter that pond water in an emergency.

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