How To Live Without Running Water   2 comments

I’ve done it. It wasn’t fun. I wouldn’t do it again if I had any alternative. Our remote cabin that we’re planning to build will have plumbing in the summer, but will essentially be a dry cabin.

The smart way to go is to at least have some semblance of “running” water.

Let’s face it — you can do your laundry at a coin-op and you can take yourself to the athletic club to shower, but if you plan to actually live somewhere, you need to do dishes and wipe down surfaces occasionally

Okay, so you haul the water in a gerry can and then let it flow through the sink to a bucket below, which you then haul away to … somewhere. It’s better than nothing and makes it possible to live in what would quickly become an unhealthy situation. Of course, washing dishes in cold water is no easy task.

And where does the water come from?

Most of us go to the magic faucet turn the handle, but dry-cabin dwellers don’t have that option. Sometimes they fill up at friends’ homes or they’ll have a generous boss, but most people end up at The Water Wagon or one of the other filling stations around Fairbanks, including the State-maintained Fox “Spring”, which used to be a naturally occuring spring of great-tasting water, but is now a well that frequently has issues requiring the Department of Transportation to take care of it.

Whatever they tell you, “free” water ain’t free. It costs about $70,000 a year to maintain the “free” water at Fox. And, then there’s the option of buying it yourself. That’s about 10 cents a gallon, plus the gas to haul it.

Of course, if you get tired of that and you own your own home, you can always install a few amenities.

More on that in the next post.

Posted August 18, 2014 by aurorawatcherak in Alaska

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2 responses to “How To Live Without Running Water

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  1. My husband’s family has a cabin on a remote Idaho lake. Well, it was remote in 1970. Back then, the family used an outhouse and one faucet, outside, that I think fed lake water for tasks such as brushing teeth. Most cabins were owned by grandparents and occupied in the summer by kids and moms while dad remained at work in town. We cooked primarily on the grill outside, but some of us could make pancakes, hamburgers, and spaghetti sauce (or heat up something from out of a can) inside on the wood stove. In the 80’s or 90’s, electricity, water and sewer lines reached the lake. Over time, most people converted their rustic “cabins” to homes they could occupy year-round. The lake is no longer remote. It’s surrounded by valuable real-estate and one dilapidated but much loved old cabin.


    • Many of these houses are minutes from town. Outside of the city limits of Fairbanks, there are no ordinances saying you have to have running water. Most homes outside of town have wells, but they’re expensive, so it’s a thriving industry here to build rental cabins without running water. Fully half of your electric bill here is an electric hot water tank, so it makes economic sense not to have running water.

      Our remote cabin will not have running water in the traditional sense, but it will have electricity through off-the-grid solutions and the means to pump water up into a tank for limited use. My husband thinks it will be livable. I doubt it, having seen what most people have in their remote cabins. And, it is highly unlikely that the area will ever be developed for true residential living. It’s 50 miles out of Fairbanks and there’s a large aquaduct pipe (the Davidson Ditch) between the road and our land, meaning we’ll probably never have motorized transportation in. It will be skiing or snowmachining in the winter and hiking or 4-wheeling/mountain biking in the summer, at least until someone sues the State to provide access across a historical monument and then there may be a road running along the top of our property. We won’t ask for it, but there’s a cabin several miles in that might.


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