Water Crisis in our Town–June 1, 2018


The city of Salem, where I live, gets its water from Detroit Lake.  It flows down the watershed, and is treated, then used by the city, and a few other surrounding cities. On Tuesday, we received word that the water has a low level of toxins in it from an algae bloom in Detroit Lake.  It is the same lake we were fishing at on Monday.  The very same lake we let the kids wade in, and many people were swimming, water skiing, and boating in.  Yikes!!!  (We are all fine so far, by the way–we didn’t ingest any and the kids only dipped their toes in.  Thank goodness they didn’t lick their toes!)

Thankfully, the warning to not drink the water applies to children under 6, medically fragile people, and so forth.  Still, although my body size is quite a bit larger than an infant’s, or even a preschooler, so I’m fine, it’s a bit creepy to think that I’ve been drinking toxic water for a few days.  Even just slightly toxic water.

On Tuesday, I finally got around to doing some grocery shopping.  We were out of a few things, like milk, and I had 2 coupons to still redeem from the Safeway monopoly game, and Tuesday was the last day I could do that.  So, Patsy and I meandered through Safeway, buying groceries and killing time while Ja’Ana was at her first college-age Tuesday night meeting at church.  (Unbelievable, huh?  College-age???  My baby??? She was the youngest kid we ever adopted, just 21 months when we got her, which is why she will always be my baby in my mind)

I went down the water aisle to get a gallon of distilled water for my iron.  They were almost out.  I even said to myself that it must have been because there was hot weather this weekend, and people were thirsty, but I wondered.

There were cases of water for $1.99.  I always like to keep a few on hand, and that is a good price, so I sent Patsy to pick up a couple and put them in the cart.  The pallet was rapidly decreasing.  In fact, she told me there were ladies who were snatching and grabbing for the water.  Huh?  For water?

At the checkout stand, I finally got what was going on, as I overheard the cashier talking, explaining that extra water was being sent by the truckload that night.  I perked up my ears, and began to listen better, and then realized that people were buying water like crazy.  I quickly paid for my groceries, including my 2 cases of water and gallon, and headed for the car.

On the way home, I stopped for gas.  Because I paid with a $20 bill instead of a card, I had to go inside.  There was a long line.  Everyone had bottles of water.  Some people had their arms full of bottles of water.  Of all those people, I was the only one who just wanted to pay for gas.

I’ve read since about price gouging–up to $47 for a case of water.  (Rob did point out that when you buy one bottle at a time for $2.50 or even $3 when you are on vacation, it comes out to more than that per case, but I still think that is excessive).   I’ve read about mothers who could not afford to buy water for their children.  I’ve seen articles about thousands upon thousands of bottles of water handed out to people, restaurants closing down, and ice machines turned off.  I’ve seen pictures of bare, empty shelves.  Thank goodness, the following picture is my idea of being “low on water.”


This all happened on Tuesday.  Today, Friday, we are still under the same restrictions–don’t drink the water if you are under 6, pregnant, medically fragile, and so on.  When I stopped in at Safeway to get some grocery items, and a Starbucks card for a gift, the Starbucks was closed.  You could barely get down the aisles because there was so much water stacked up in them.  Although Rob knows of someone who watched an entire semi truck being sold in less than 2 hours on Tuesday, clearly, there has been a large supply brought in.

Have I bought more?  Certainly.  Am I drinking tap water.  No way. I don’t want even a little poison in my water:)  I made our ice with bottled water.  We picked up a couple more cases at Costco last night, and I got 3 gallons today. I’m letting the kids and my niece have what they want.   I expect this to be over before long, but if this crisis continues, I will take those 3 gallons or other containers to my sister’s and fill them.  Their water is not affected by this crisis.

It just brought it to my mind that you never know when some kind of crisis is going to come your way.  I’m glad I have a large food storage.  I’m glad it looks like a little grocery store in my garage, and that water was a part of what I stored.  I didn’t have to panic.  I didn’t have to snatch water from someone else. I didn’t have to juggle water bottles in my arms in the gas station store, and pay large sums for each bottle.  My kids didn’t have to drink water that was even a little toxic and neither did I.  I’m glad there is a well in our back yard that is hooked to our sprinkler system.  If worst came to worst, we would drink that, although I’d feel better if we got it tested first. (Wells are not affected by this current crisis, but we’ve never tested that well for drinking, since we are on city water and only use it for irrigation).


There have been some times when I asked myself if I was crazy for storing so much food. While I admit freely that I am trying to keep it reigned in a little more in the past few years, simply because there are less of us eating here than there used to be, I still keep a large stockpile.  There is more in the shop, mostly the main home-canning shelves and the deep freezers.  I wondered if there really was going to be a crisis of any sort, but figured at the least, I was saving money by buying in bulk and when things are on a really good sale.  I do sort and rotate the food. I throw very little away.  I store what we eat, and not random items.

Thankfully, this crisis is short-lived, and will not cause a panic at my house.  I no longer feel even the slightest bit crazy for having several cases of water on hand.  And, if for any reason there is a food shortage…..you can all come over for dinner:). Unless, of course, you get busy and store some food and water as well.  It’s not a bad idea.




21 thoughts on “Water Crisis in our Town–June 1, 2018”

  1. I hope it clears up soon! It is always good to have extra food supplies on hand. Ever since Y2K we have. But now since our children are grown and moved out, I don’t worry as much as I have less mouths to feed! I know you still do though! Andrea

    1. I hope so, too!!! Of course, I’m assuming they are erring on the side of caution, and the levels are super low, but ??? hard to tell, isn’t it, since I’m not a water treatment expert:)

  2. Hi Becky: With great interest, I read your narrative on how a water crisis is handled in your area of the country. Believe it or not, it is very similar to how things go here in Florida after a hurricane or other major storm blows through. For example, Patsy’s observation of the ladies snatching and grabbing for water plays out here as well. Generally, these are ladies who do not prepare ahead of time and find themselves caught in the aftermath of a crisis. Hurricane Season officially started today, June 1st. I have learned to purchase two cases of water each week beginning May 1st in order to build up my family’s water supply before the start of the Hurricane Season. This helps to spread the extra cost over a period of a few week’s shopping. Since bottled water does have an expiration date, we always begin to rotate out the extra water after November 30th. Hope your restrictions are lifted soon !

    1. It would be hard to deal with hurricanes every year. It sounds like you have a great plan–buying water every month:). I hope you don’t get hit hard this year.

  3. Yikes! I am sorry you are having to deal with this. We have a well for everything but of course we would be in trouble if we had a long power outage so we do store quite a bit here. I hope they have this resolved soon.

  4. LOVE your pantry…………..so important to keep extra food and water in your home just in case. you never know where there could be a natural disaster or financial one.

    1. Thanks! I love my pantry, too. It’s fun to look for good deals and stock it up, and I truly love canning and freezing. It’s my useful hobby.

        1. It’s hard to say. I like to can so many things. I usually can peaches, pears, applesauce, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, tomato juice, whole tomatoes, lots of different jams, berry syrup, dill pickles, sweet pickles, relish, fruit cocktail and often, more. I am always on the lookout for things to can that I have not canned before. My mother calls me a “recreational canner” because I just like to try new things. In the past few years, my new thing has been fresh tuna from the docks down at the Pacific Ocean. We love that, now!

          1. Oh my goodness! I agree with your mom. Sounds like you could have canning parties at your house. I hope to get a few things canned this summer……….it’s been a while.

  5. It seems to be happening in more and more areas. I’m glad you have plenty of supplies on hand. Hubby used to tease me that I was preparing for the end of the world. When we first got married we were broke. I always bought food first to make sure we could eat. Over the years we have had plenty of reasons to live off of our stockpile, money problems, medical and then there was Super Storm Sandy. We were fine for the 2 weeks that power was out in our area. I was able to have my 2 nieces move in and feed there parents without a problem. I had several friends and family members that needed food since the trucks couldn’t get here to deliver food. It was end of October so I still had some fresh veggies in my garden. I did run out of fresh milk and eggs but that is what powdered is for. I had a 3 month supply for the 5 of us then. Now I am trying to get it to 6 months. I now realize that I would be feeding way more then the 5 of us if something happened. I always keep 5 cases of water on hand. I have about 100 2 liter soda bottles filled with water also. I have 2 water purifiers and water tablets. I look at it as a life insurance policy, I have it and hope I never need it.

    1. It sounds like you are well prepared! I, also, know that we would be feeding more than just us in a crisis. I can’t see myself or Rob sitting around eating well while people we love go hungry. We love a lot of people, and there are many who love us. So, hopefully, we could pool resources in a crisis.

  6. Over here, we are encouraged to keep enough water (1 gallon per day per person plus pets) for at least 3 days, but preferably for longer, just for drinking and cooking, in case of a major earthquake. I try to keep a good stock of bottled water on hand for that purpose.

    1. Thankfully, the water crisis is over, at least for now. I still have 2 unopened gallons of water that I will save, and always keep bottles on hand, as we take them on picnics, hikes, lunches, etc. It am now more aware than ever that I need to store more:).

  7. That would be so scary Becky! I try to keep bottled water, along with juices, on hand at all times. You just never know when you might be under a boil order, have a pipe break or be told not to drink the water period.

    1. Today, we took 5 empty gallon jars to the “watering station” so we could get them filled with clean, pure water.

      The place we went was at a park nearby, and we found the National Guard handing out water. The kids had so much fun, poising with the soldier by the big truck

  8. Your stockpile is amazing, Becky! You are definitely prepared for times of scarcity but also for feeding your lovely family at great prices. It’s good that you will be able to get water from your sister’s place too, water that’s safe to drink. We are pretty lucky here where I live in that we have some of the safest tap water in the world. We did have restrictions, many years ago, because of drought and so had to be extremely careful with what we used then. Now, we have two water tanks, a large one under our house and a smaller one that fits in under our back verandah. Meg:)

    1. Thank you! This water crisis is crazy. They keep lifting the ban, then putting it back. I guess they left it on for quite a few days, “just in case” but now they say they have found a way to filter it safely. So, that’s good. I’ve never had to worry about this before, as we have lived in the country and had a well. I’m glad you have good water:).

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