Well runs dry, as does savings

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

Chiefland City Commissioner Rollin Hudson says the hottest day in Chiefland is always city election day.
I prefer to think there are three equally hot days: Chiefland High School graduation day, city election day and Watermelon Festival day.
It was no exception this year as I worked at the Citizen booth and stood in the heat for an hour as the annual festival parade rolled by. I was delirious for a shower.
As I left Chiefland at about 1 p.m. I called home. "No shower," the Carnivore said. "Something's wrong with the well."
“There's no water."
I went through the possible problems with him and he had tried them all. His brother would be over soon to check on it. The older brother has more experience living on a well.
After a quick swipe with swimming pool water I took a short nap and awakened to a well service guy in our yard. He was pulling pipe out of the well.
"That's 21 feet," he said of the first section. The second section came out. And it kept coming out of the ground. After a certain point it was showing its corrosion and age.
It stopped at 58 feet. And there was a small pump attached. The well guy wiped at it.  
"Thirteen years," he said, his voice showing some amazement.
"I guess it doesn't owe us any favors," I asked.
"No. They usually don't last this long."
We chatted with him about how he learned his craft and swapped names. We learned he knew most of our neighbors.
That's because one by one he ticked their names, pointed in the direction of their residences and mentioned he had to work on their wells after they went dry recently.
Some had to drill deeper. Others, like us only had to extend the pipe.
Like us they all had to buy a new pump because the old faithful ones burned out trying to pull water through the air when we opened a faucet or turned on an appliance.
The well man said that we all had a sudden catastrophic drop of a couple of feet — like the water suddenly went somewhere.
I went indoors to bury my despair in a diet cola and get ready for the Watermelon Queen Pageant.
Before I left, the well man checked our water level and found it was wet at 60 feet and bottomed out at 70 feet.
When I got home later we had water service.
It consisted of a bucket hauled from the 10-foot "beer pool" in the back yard.  We call it a beer pool not because it is filled with beer, but because it has the same euphoric effect as a six-pack on a hot day. We have also learned to keep the old 1,000-gallon blue plastic pool around for occasions like this.
We were living in Pensacola when Hurricane Ivan hit  in  '04 and left the city without water service for over a week. Our 8-foot pool provided toilet water, bucket showers and, once we were clean, a cool dip. I love having a pool ready for hurricane water shortages.
The Carnivore said it would be Monday afternoon before a new pump could be installed. The starting price on the Internet is $700.
Driving around on Sunday and Monday had me giving the old stink eye to every pivot irrigation system and sprinkler.  A bunch of cows was living a better life than I was with lush grass to munch on and a sprayer to keep 'em cool.  
I also learned as I talked to others about our well going dry that almost every one had either had their well go dry in the last year or so or knew someone who had. It's a big list.
Monday evening the Carnivoree called with the good news. I could take a shower once again.
It would cost $1,450.
It might take more than a diet soda to get over the bill. But I uttered a prayer of gratitude that it was not $3,000 like some folks bill.
It's time for rain,  conservation by everyone, and a stop to permits while we get an inventory of our water supply and examine how we use water.
Then after the pause, let's have a plan for how we will use it in the future.
My showers are shorter for starters.