After an ice cold beer at the pub on Thursday night, I came home to my hostel where my classmates were facing a problem we had never really encountered before. Some girls were standing in towels, while others were just looking to freshen up before bed. There was NO WATER. After deciding we needed to call someone to inform them our water was not working, a brave soul decided to do some research. One of my classmates informed us that the water on the Aran Islands is completely shut off from 11 pm to 9:30 am. Chaos! Where will people shower? How will people brush their teeth? Where will people use the bathroom? The lack of water made us realize just how much we use water on a daily basis back in the United States. With no warning at all, we had to adjust for the next couple of hours, whether it meant holding off your shower until the next morning, or for some people, washing their hands with sparkling water. The only thing to do was to wait.
The next morning we learned why the water needed to be turned off. The extremely dry weather and the lack of rainfall, especially on the islands, has forced the residents to make changes in their everyday lives such as shortening showers, washing dishes with close to no water and dealing with the lack of toilets for long stretches of time throughout the night. This not only affects them but it affects their businesses. Inis Mor and Inis Oirr are both attractive tourists sites. If people know they cannot depend on water, or may not be able to use the water when at their leisure, it could turn away a good amount of their business. As Dr. Speakman said, “this is a price we have to pay. Would you rather have nice weather and less water, or rainy weather with no water problems.”
Although the first night the water shortage was surprising and a little frustrating, I think some of us learned a lesson through these struggles. I realized how much I take water for granted and how much water I let fly down the drain for no reason. I will be the first to admit that more often than not, I spend a good amount of time in the shower just standing there letting the water hit my face. Many times I leave the water going while brushing my teeth. And nine times out of ten I am doing laundry multiple times a week when I honestly have plenty of other clothes I could wear. I definitely did not enjoy the shock of having no running water for an extended period of time, but it made me think about every one of my choices at the hostel. How can I wash my dishes without wasting any water? How can I take a more efficient shower? How can I take these practices home and save even the slightest bit of water? While water is a luxury for me at home, I need to remember that many parts of the world do not share these riches. Although I am not planning to physically bring buckets of water to countries around the world, the idea of saving or sharing water is a lesson that will stick with me forever.