Bermuda Water Food Craditions

Bermuda is probably the only tourist resort in the world that honestly likes to see rain. Though surrounded by water it is dependent on rainfall for its water supply. Fortunately it has no "dry season" or "wet season" and is blessed with a more or less even rainfall. Even so nobody wastes water. A leaking faucet is repaired immediately a Bermudian learns from childhood not to take long showers or full tubs.

Every household has its own private water works and monitors its own supply. That the characteristic white roofs, resembling flights of shallow steps, happen to be picturesque and unique is merely an attractive coincidence. The primary reason for a roof anywhere is to cover the house, but in Bermuda its secondary purpose of catching rain is almost as important. The rain water is channeled along the limewashed "terraces" or notched rows on the roof into a subterranean cistern called a "tank," which is as essential a feature of a Bermuda house as a front door. The walls of a house may be pink, blue or yellow, but its roof is always white. A few gold fish or guppies, provided free by the Department of Public Health, are kept in the tank to keep it clear of mosquito larvae. ( Bermuda has few mosquitoes.)

Water can be bought but in time of need it is hard to get and expensive to transport.
At various places you will see a whitewashed hillside or water catchment designed to collect water in somewhat larger quantities. Catchments are made by scraping off the few inches of soil down to the stone and applying a lime wash. Some houses have smaller catches to supplement the water from their roofs.

In one desperate search to find a supplemental water supply Bermudians drilled 1,360 feet into their Islands. The bore showed 360 feet of limestone, 200 feet of decomposed volcanic deposit, then 800 feet of black volcanic rock which apparently kept going right on to the ocean floor, but no fresh water any place.

The man who freed Bermuda from its fear of drought was Harry Watlington, a Bermudian whose prominent ancestors had been coping with the water problem for 300 years. The theory was that even on a remote atoll some fresh water must be held in suspension under the sandstone hills. By drilling wells down into the hillsides and then horizontally in different directions he was able to tap this supply, and for the first time in history Bermuda had fresh water that didn't come from catch- ments. "Watlington Water" is widely used by hotels, guest houses and some private homes for bathing, toilets, and other household uses, but it is not particularly pleasant to drink. Watlington was knighted by the king, and Sir Harry is a latterday hero in Bermuda history. Keats wrote what might have been a fitting inscription for his gravestone: "Here lies one whose name was writ in water."

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