Enjoy your toilet flushing

before rationing

A government plan to save water has many homeowners flushing with anger.

According to the New York Times, federal laws limiting new toilets to 1.6 gallons of water per flush are sending consumers across the border in pursuit of illegal Canadian commodes. The toilet smugglers claim the new fixtures in our country often have to be flushed three times to accomplish their purpose.

The assumption, of course, is that toilets always flushed easily before the new laws were passed. People tend to forget that most homes in our country were once served by privately owned water supply systems. In fact, until a new rural water system is finished this fall, homes in our area will be served by nothing else but quirky wells and fussy pumps.

With the constant possibility of a diminishing water supply or running out of electrical fuses in the middle of the night, every flush is perceived as a blessed miracle. A finicky well system allows nothing to be taken for granted.

Over the years, "The pump's not working so don't try to flush" has become a familiar morning greeting in our home, not unlike other people's good mornings or "How would you like your eggs?"

Large bottles of water are always stashed away for emergencies such as brushing teeth, making pots of coffee or preventing complete kidney shutdowns. Using the reserved water for trivial purposes (i.e., cooking meals or housecleaning) is strictly forbidden by a certain member of the management.

Water pressures and well levels continue to be strong influences on our lives, although they were more widespread problems years ago. A reader from Sioux Falls, S.D., recently responded to a column I had written about Saturday night-only baths, and she described perfectly what could be called "the bathroom domino theory."

"You brought back childhood memories of when my brothers and I bathed once a week," she wrote. "Part of our bathing success was directly related to the toilet. If the toilet flushed we could use half a tub of water. If the flushing was sluggish, one-fourth of a tub. If we had to use the plunger in the toilet, less than one-fourth. If we had to use a bucket of water to flush the toilet, forget it. We simply took -spit baths.' "

The flush formula continues to work for many of us.

Radio host G. Gordon Liddy, whom the Times points out worked with plumbers during the Watergate scandal, has also plunged into the toilet water level controversy. He admitted on his radio talk show that he brought in foreign goods for his own use.

"Next the government will require us to wear helmets in the shower," he told his radio audience, "lest we slip and fall."
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