Living in a water shortage

Yesterday, I was doing something in my kitchen when I heard a crack, then what sounded like someone dragging the sheets from our clothesline to the ground. But when I looked out the window, I saw that a branch had snapped off the tree in our courtyard.

Twigs from the branch were brittle like dead, dry wood. I don't know this for sure, but it seems as if our water shortage is so severe that live wood is drying out. A scary thought.

Israel is a dry country, but this water shortage is more severe than normal. We're like people who live off of credit cards and realize they're nearing their credit limit. We've taken for granted that the red line on the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) can move lower and lower, but now we're beginning to wonder if the water left might not be enough.

In the US, I sometimes experienced droughts-- the spring on my family's farm would dry up and we would switch to well water, and then we'd get a big storm and the water would return. But what we considered a drought in rainy Pennsylvania is a way of life in Israel. We don't get rain all summer here, so we depend on winter rains... and continue to live beyond our water means.

Next time, I'm going to post about how to wash dishes in a water shortage-- complete with pictures of my dirty dishes! (Actually, you might not want to check back for that.)

For now, one of our favorite new water-saving tricks: we put a bucket in our shower to collect the cold water that runs while we wait for the water to turn warm. (Not "gray" run-off water-- clean water that otherwise goes wasted.) Then, I've been using this water to water plants and mop floors. Honestly, there's too much of it-- I now have a full bucket of water that I'm not sure what to do with. We might start using it to flush our toilets, although that sounds a little tricky. Or I might just buy more herbs for my window boxes and revel in the fact that I don't need to feel guilty when I water my plants. Any other ideas?


  1. Oi, the trees are breaking down?!

    Kol hakavod for doing your water saving. I have a water bucket too, mostly for the kitchen. Wish all Israelis would get into this habit.

  2. I say to use the extra water to water the tree that needs it:)

  3. I use some of it occasionally to wash the car. Especially when it's dirty after a long trip to the beach or something (hint hint ;> )

  4. Maya, the bucket sounds like a wonderful thing. If you have a couple of buckets, and they can sit in the bathtub, I would think you could fill the tank manually when the toilet flushes and still use all the water. I applaud your efforts and will remember this myself, even living in rain-soaked and lake-surrounded Michigan.


  5. When I lived in a dry country, I had a large baby bath which I stood in when I showered. It caught most of the water I used, and I watered the parched grass with each shower water. The grass didn't seem to mind that it had a bit of soap in it.

  6. Our dairy dishwasher has been broken for close to a year and I've been doing all the dairy dishes by hand. While I don't particularly mind doing dishes, I have realized that hand washing uses MUCH more water than the dishwasher uses. So, the best thing people can do to reduce the use of water used in dishwashing is to get a dishwasher.

    I wonder if the drought becomes severe enough, if the Rabbanim might get together and declare that it is permissible to wash a load of dairy dishes in the dishwasher and then later wash a load of meat dishes in the same dishwasher?

  7. I REALLY want a dishwasher... next apartment!

  8. Mark,
    Considering that Maya manages to do all the dishes (soap and rinse) with about 2-3 liters of water, I kinda doubt that dishwashers are more efficient. Though they are a lot nicer.

    As to the idea of using the same dishwasher, this was actually a question that came up in a responsa column not to long ago. Apparently the problem is that you can have remnants of meat meals wash up and get caught in the dishwasher drain. If then you put in a load of dairy, the same could happen to, say, bits of cheese. Given the fact that dishwashers use hot water, this would be considered cooking if the result is fit to eat. And given that by the end of the process the soap is rinsed off, the food would be considered edible. Thus leading to a situation where you've cooked meat and dairy together.

    It is permissible, according to some rabbis, to use a meat dishwasher for dairy and vise verse, if you first clean it thoroughly and then run it empty for one cycle at the highest temperature. However, considering that the idea here is to save water, this is probably not a good approach. :)


Related Posts with Thumbnails