I have just passing contact with various aspects of Southeastern historic archaeology, but it seems to me if I were to brush up on domestic residential complexes, I would learn more about cisterns. Yet, I’ve never seen a modern house with a cistern in these parts (although I’m sure there must be at least a few out there). Despite the current precipitation record, it hasn’t stopped raining around here, so we must instead have undergone a revolution in how we obtain water—and switched to deep, drilled wells, and community water systems (also relying on drilled wells).
I listen mostly to NPR streaming on WUNC, and I am now hearing a friendly voice in the station’s cut-in telling me how to catch in a bucket the water that flows out of my showerhead while I’m waiting for it to get hot, so I can use that water productively.
The last time I did that consistently was when I visited rural Alaska years and years ago, where the tundra meant a water truck brought water (no buried pipes) and the honey wagon came by for the other “product.”
Even in Oaxaca, where the water truck is called the pipa, we didn’t catch the shower water, although I always wondered why. Maybe ’cause that water was pretty cheap (from our standard of living, but not, of course, for all), relatively speaking? After all, we purchased drinking water separately from the pipa water….
The other piece of our typical household water system that bypasses conservation measures, of course, is the ignored greywater, but I’ve already ranted a bit about that….
Air quality is of concern, without a doubt, but water is the show-stopper. Remember all those Roman aqueducts? The oases here and there across the globe? The explorers’ stories that recorded where the springs and “sweetwater” were to be found? The terraces and irrigation and flood control structures? Water is where it’s at in human survival. I’ve examined environmental concerns from every angle, and I come back to this….
So, although Google announced they’re investing in developing renewable energy sources (they started their philanthropy aimed at improving peoples’ health, and then saw that affordable, renewable energy underlies that problem), I keep thinking potable water, and water for living and food, is a poorly addressed limited non-renewable commodity. Or something….
—tank for storing water: also, reservoir, container, butt (in the sense of a cask, a container for wine, ale, or water, possibly etymologically related to “bottle”)
…from Latin cisterna, from cista ‘box.’