FLEUR: LOS ANGELES, CA
Lawn sprinkler jumping during hot Texas summers! Alternatively, fishing with my grandfather in the rain (but never catching a single fish).
KELLY: HOP BOTTOM, PA
There's always been plenty of water in northeastern Pennsylvania... or so I thought. Now there's a gas well 3,000 feet from my house and in a few short days or weeks the fracking process will consume 2-8 million gallons of water. Water that will never be the same. Water that even the water cycle can't clean. I live in constant fear of our aquifer and our pond being polluted, and it's not a question of "if," rather it's a question of "when." Thanks for all you are doing, Longest Straw. Any friend of water is a friend of mine.
KIM: KINGSLEY, PA
Rather than a history I will share some memories. Water defined where I was at. When the water was tasteless I was home, when it had a rich mineral flavor I was on my grandparent's farm, when I gagged on the chlorination, I was at my cousin's in the city. Water defined my life when it was put on my head and I became a subject of the Kingdom of God.
LUCY: LOS ANGELES, CA
I discovered when water refused to be taken for granted by me when I was in high school. My family had fallen on some monetary issues and we found ourselves struggling to pay for repairs to our plumbing. We were unable to fix the hot water heater and the water system linking our toilet and our shower upstairs. In lieu of fixing either, we created a fool-proof system where one of us would take a shower then use the water that would not drain from the shower and dump it into our toilet to flush it. At first glance, this system seemed foolish and embarrassing. After a few days, however, I realized how efficient i had become at showering quickly, taking care not to waste water and to allow for whoever was in line to shower next enough barely warm water to enjoy.This system taught me humility and teamwork. I take extremely quick showers to this day (under 3 minutes!).
NICOLE: LOS ANGELES, CA
I grew up along the Beaver River which dumps into the giant Ohio River just downstream from the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers' meeting in the city of Pittsburgh. I had a huge relationship with all the bodies of water I was surrounded by and swam in them and built many a fire along their banks. I don't miss living in Pennsylvania but I do fear for the sustainability and future of my beloved California. Water conservation is important to me and I learn more every day about how to be more conscientious.
STEVE: LOS ANGELES, CA
We have this annual hike we do, the Death March, and every year it gets harder. We've been losing numbers in recent years because the weather has been consistently worsening, always hotter, a constant reminder of global climate change. Of course, one of the most important things to remember on a hike like that is to bring more water than you think you need, because you'll probably end up needing it! Well, last year was the first year multiple people ran out of water on the trail. It's a potentially serious situation since you could get stranded as far as 2 or 3 miles from the nearest drivable road, let alone actual water, so you don't want to get stuck. Luckily a lot of us are veterans of the hike and brought enough to share. There are also fill stations along the way at Musch Camp and Trippet Ranch. That was last year, this year's Death March was even worse, it got up to 107 on the trail. There were fewer people as well, so less help was available as people got spread out. Even with planning and prior awareness of the heat wave, we weren't prepared. I personally brought almost 1.5 gallons, a lot of weight but worth it. I expected to be sharing with others. Instead, even with refills at our usual sources, I actually ran out. I used over two gallons in about four hours and had to rely on donations from others. And there were other people who ran out of water as well, and one poor guy started getting heat stroke on the trail, luckily right near the last descent so he was able to hobble out, but it was getting ugly with lightheadedness, vomitting, and black-outs. So we made it out okay, but it was a stark, personal reminder of how important water is to survival, and a real-life experience and lesson on how miserable it is to actually run out of water, not have any to drink, and have it actually pose a risk to your survival (even if you did do it to yourself). And we realized that if CA runs out of water, or has more severe cutbacks and they shut off the public water sources at Musch Camp and Trippet Ranch, it will probably end our ability to have this hike in the future because we really rely on those refill stations. In a way, it's all a very good micro-example of what's going on these days with the drought all throughout western North America. We ARE doing it to ourselves, this water crisis is largely man-made. Sure, droughts are common in the region but it's not like we didn't already know that when we built wasteful industry, infrastructure, and habits, and continued to overpopulate the area when we already knew there was a problem. So the more I think of it, the more perfect an analogy it is.