GUEST COLUMN: Counting our blessings, one litre at a time

All of us were impacted by the work that needed to be done to our water infrastructure

Water. It’s a very timely topic for us right now.

This past week, all of us in Summerland were impacted by the work that needed to be done to our water infrastructure.

The District of Summerland prepared us well for this disruption to our water. They gave us months of notice and helped us prepare us for the worst-case scenario.

The weekend before the boil water notice went into effect, we spent many hours at our house preparing for the water shutdown.

We filled every water bottle, growler, glass container, jug and any other plastic or glass container we had available with drinkable water.

We had approximately 50 litres of water ready to go for the shutdown.

We washed all of the dishes, ran the dishwasher, washed all of the dirty laundry, made extra ice cubes, prepped the coffee maker, kettle and tea pot and filled all of the dog’s dishes. We were ready!

What quickly became evident was how much water we actually use in our home on a daily basis.

I realized by day three of the boil water alert that even with our preparation and water rationalization, the 50 litres would quickly be gone.

I didn’t realize how much water it took to fill the sink to rinse the dishes.

I didn’t realize how much water it took for the coffee maker every day.

I didn’t realize how much water we used to keep us hydrated and to brush our teeth.

I didn’t realize how much water my dogs drank every day.

I honestly thought we would have all the water we needed. But by day five of the boil water alert, I packed up a big bag of jugs and took them to Penticton and filled all of them with fresh tap water.

And to think, we only had to look after a portion of our water needs.

The District of Summerland still looked after our water needs for flushing toilets and showering.

This water shutdown was a great exercise. We had lots of notice. We were well prepared. We had back-up water sources. And really, the risk of running out of drinking water wasn’t that great.

Most of us could easily get to a store to buy bottled water or even drive to Penticton to get fresh tap water if needed.

But, what if this wasn’t an exercise?

What if we lost access to fresh drinking water without notice?

How long could we last when we aren’t prepared? What if we lived with an unreliable fresh water source?

According to the World Health Organization website and, one in 10 people lack access to safe water. That’s 663 million people.

Globally, at least 1.8 billion people use a drinking-water source contaminated with feces.

I don’t know about you, but this whole water shutdown made me realize a few things.

We are fortunate to live in a community where efforts are made to ensure our water infrastructure is maintained.

I am very thankful to the District of Summerland for the advance notice and the opportunity to prepare for this water shutdown.

And I am grateful to those that worked so hard to manage the disruptions and the impact on us.

I also realized how very lucky we are to have ongoing access to fresh water. Not just lucky, fortunate.

Really, we are blessed.

During this water shutdown, I counted my blessings with every single litre I poured.

Kim Lawton is a Summerland resident, marketing consultant and dog lover.