Big Kahuna

Rainy Day

Liquid gold, a tourists nightmare. Sorry tourists, us locals love a good all day rain. It fills our cisterns. You see most homes aren’t attached to town/city water. We have to hope it rains then our roof gutter system funnels the rain water down into cement holding tanks under our home. That water then gets pumped through the home.

I have two 10 thousand gallon cisterns so I love the rain. You’d be amazed at the amount of water the average person living in the states uses.

Typical water use at home

Bath A full tub is about 36 gallons.
Shower 2 gallons per minute. Old shower heads use as much as 5 gallons per minute.
Teeth brushing <1 gallon, especially if water is turned off while brushing. Newer bath faucets use about 1 gallon per minute, whereas older models use over 2 gallons.
Hands/face washing 1 gallon
Face/leg shaving 1 gallon
Dishwasher 4 to 10 gallons/load, depending of efficiency of dishwasher
Dishwashing by hand: 20 gallons. Newer kitchen faucets use about 2.2 gallons per minutes, whereas older faucets use more.
Clothes washer 25 gallons/load for newer washers. Older models use about 40 gallons per load.
Toilet flush 3 gallons. Most all new toilets use 1.6 gallons per flush, but many older toilets used about 4 gallons.
Glasses of water drunk


8 oz. per glass (did you remember to drink your 8 glasses of water today?)

So as you can see water is precious to locals.  There are many times when I have to buy water because we go through a dry spell. The cost for me is $380 for 5,500 gallons or roughly .07 cents per gallon or $1400 to fill my 20,000 gallon cisterns. Expensive.

Tourists of course come here for the sun. So it’s a trade off but for now let it rain!


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  1. September 6, 2013 @ 6:29 pm

    Carrie Bekker Said,

    I can totally relate! Huz Bobby and I lived in Tortola, BVI in the mid to late 90s. We lived in Brewers Bay (which is past Cane Garden Bay) and it was essentially living in “the country” because it was so hard to get to and the roads were very narrow and rocky. Fortunately for us, Brewers Bay was also in the “rain belt” of the island, so I cistern never ran dry. However, our neighbors on the compound, the Callwoods, had a leak in their cistern, so they had to haul whatever water they could into the main house so that the cistern could be repaired, yet still have water in the meantime. BVI is leisurely, so even if you know someone, it could still be a while before a cistern can be repaired and water trucked in (assuming the supplier will even go to Brewers Bay to fill it). Fast forward to 2012, which when huz Bobby and I moved back to the VI, but this time to St. Thomas, as we’re self employed and living in the USVI was far simpler and cheaper in terms of biz permits, etc. — plus we live next door to our best friends who moved here 17 years ago to be closer to us (in Tortola), and now we’re back! We have city water and, at the moment, the cistern has a leak. As any islander knows, esp USVI, WAPA (Water and Power Authority) bills can be prohibitively expensive — esp the electricity — and so we’re just as judicious with water as we were when we had cistern water. When we get big rains like we had last night, for example, we put our buckets under the waterspout and filter the rainwater for drinking and ice cubes. Filtered rain water takes the cake over desal city water — or even mainland water unless you live near the mountains, like Tahoe. Many thanks, Big Kahuna, for sharing how things really are so that visitors have a cultural perspective while traveling.

  2. December 6, 2013 @ 8:02 am

    Amy Beth Said,

    Woe! I just came back from St. Thomas, where it rained everyday. I have to admit I was a little disappointed by that. However, since I live on a small lake in No. IL, my water and sewer bills are obviously incomparable at $525/yr. All I can say is “Bring on the rain” for you islanders! I’m also a little surprised that in this day and age, we haven’t focused more on updating the water and sewer system in the islands. Our government puts more money into a bridge to know where, than in our peoples basic needs. Sheesh! Thanks for sharing. I’ll appreciate your island even more than I already do…it’s 3 degrees here now! Brrrrr!

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