May 19, 2005

Water comes first

Almost every day, the Pueblo Chieftain carries articles on the maneuverings over southern Colorado water.

At base is the fact that Colorado Springs, as I mentioned before, was built at the intersection of two small creeks with no good water source. The city utilities department is always trying to find ways to route more and more of the Arkansas River through the city, through existing or proposed pipelines, at the expense of smaller towns and the lower Arkansas Valley's farms. Since those towns and farms are in the Chieftain's circulation area--its catch basin, to keep the water metaphor going--the Chieftain's has been taking a hard line against Colorado Springs' designs.

It's a boring newspaper in many respects, but it does have the best water-reporting in the state.

Meanwhile, I watch similar dramas on a micro rather than macro level. Last week I met some new neighbors, who bought a house that shares a well with our cabin (and two other houses, one unoccupied).

Considering that they moved here from Durango, I was astonished to learn that they had no idea that they were buying a house with a shared well—and a miserable, shallow well prone to running dry in drought years at that!

The first rule of country living, I thought, was "Check the well" (and the septic system). Then think about the house.

Our postmistress also sells real estate. (Talk about knowing everything about everybody!) She topped me with a story about showing a home to a potential buyer who asked who the water company was. (It's a well.) And who the gas company was. (You pay for propane.) Eventually she suggested that to the client that perhaps this area required a little more self-reliance than they were prepared for.

The smart guy is the neighbor who plows people's access roads in the winter and then hauls water in the summer. There is the ideal home business.

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