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Wasting Water

Hey y’all,

I wanted to get another couple of insights into life in Afghanistan. I wrote this awhile ago and had neglected to send it. It pretty much describes the daily routine in the morning.

Wasting water

We are in a pretty dry country. Remember the update about how dry and dusty this place is – everywhere? Well, many American men are oblivious to the fact this country is so dry and that water is a precious commodity. But really, military guys everywhere are oblivious to the practice of conserving water and at no time is it more apparent than during the morning hygiene rituals.

I usually shower at night. When I did shave, I used to shave in the shower as well. I figured my face was already wet, I use this organic stuff as both soap and a shaving crème substitute so showering/shaving was a one stop event. When I didn’t shave in the shower, I’d shave at the sink, turning on the water only when I needed to lather, wash off or rinse out the razor. Let me tell you, I am the exception – definitely not the rule and that annoys the shit outta me.

I do touch up the beard while over here. I don’t want all that hair on my next and I shave the whiskers off my face – or else they’d grow up to my cheekbones. Some of the guys here have whiskers going right up to their eyes. It’s bizarre! Well, not me. I shave my neck and cheek area nearly daily, usually in the mornings. It helps me feel a bit more civilized in this barbaric environment.

Well, usually I’m at one sink, next to a guy at the other sink (there are only two sinks at each end of the shower building). Invariably, the guy next to me has the water running – whether or not he’s actually using it, and that’s annoying. Although there are signs posted everywhere which implore people to conserve water, there’s always some knucklehead with the water running on high while he’s brushing his teeth or shaving. I hate that. Sometimes I’ll dip my razor or toothbrush under his faucet when this happens. Why not? Screw him, why use my faucet when his is squandering away water…..

What ever happened to conservation, to an environmental consciousness, to just plain doing the right thing? Some FOBs & COPs don’t even have showers or much running water. Soldiers there must use baby wipes/wet wipes to clean up and use scarce, crappy smelling, non-potable water for shaving & brushing. If someone left the water running there, he’d get shot – well, at least his water privileges would be suspended.

At my FOB I wondered where all that excess water goes. Some of it must end up in the evaporation ponds at the end of base. Remember those, I told you about them earlier. Large “lakes” of water which emit that awful septic stench that permeates the entire base at times. Some of it is used to “wash” the roads. Help me understand this. We’ve got mostly paved roads on 85% of the base, yet this huge tanker filled with dirty water drives around the base once in the morning and once in the evening, spraying water onto the pavement. I don’t get it. Why wet down a concrete road? I can understand doing that by the airfield, but why we are paying some contractor (Afghan or otherwise) to spray down the roads on the entire base is beyond me. Wouldn’t that money be better spent – on ANYTHING else?

People often don’t understand the larger impact of their actions. The more water we use to brush & shave, the longer showers we take, the more often we wash down the vehicles – all add to the evaporation pools. Maybe the streets get hosed down because there’s just too much water to put in the evap pools. See, if everyone conserved even a bit more, maybe we could save some money by cancelling the street washing contract. I mean, we all need to do our part. Too bad most guys are dumbasses.

Frustrated in a bone dry country

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