Why do so many Alaskans carry a big tank in the back of their pick-up truck?
Most people take water for granted. After all--it's just, water, right?
'Well' for some Alaskans, it's not that simple...
Outside of the cities, many Alaskans are forced to bring water into their home. Drilling a well might be cost-prohibitive. Or, they might have elevated levels of iron or arsenic in the water table in their location, leaving hauled water as their only option.
One can choose to have their water delivered by a water company via huge tanker truck which runs approximately $0.10 per gallon. At that price, a person very quickly learns to ditch the dishwasher and to turn off the tap while brushing their teeth!
If delivery isn't an option, or in order to take a more thrifty approach, many haul it themselves from a water station for around $0.03 per gallon. These stations operate similar to a gas station but are un-staffed. SImply drive up, put in the money, attach the hose and fill-er up! Either way, getting hauled water can be very costly -- a family of four can easily go through 500-1,000 gallons/week. And for the do-it-yourselfers, it's cumbersome in the summertime and downright painful in winter's sub-zero temperatures.
At a water station, you'll find Alaskans filling everything from their water bottle on their way to a day hike, to 5 gallon water containers commonly used for camping, all the way up to these large tanks designed to fit in the back of a pickup truck. They vary in size and can hold upwards of 500 gallons. But you'd better have a serious heavy duty truck for that sized tank! Water weighs 8.3 pounds per gallon (U.S.) so a full 500 gallon tank weighs over 4,000 pounds. The water tank shown below is a 200 gallon tank which weighs nearly 1,670 pounds when filled. It's critical that people fill these tanks to the top. Otherwise, the water sloshes back and forth with the stopping/starting of the truck and keeps on rocking as you slosh on down the highway. This can be felt by the driver and has been known to cause serious car accidents. Not to mention the unnecessary wear on the truck.
This particular tank was made by Greer Tank, Inc. -- an Alaska company. This tank meets the qualifications to proudly display the 'Made in Alaska' logo.
When the hauler gets home, they use a hose and good ol' gravity or a pump to transfer the water into their underground tank--if they are lucky enough to have plumbing, that is! Some Alaskans live in a 'dry cabin' with no water pipes. Those brave souls just carry the water indoors, little by little, in any way they see fit.
Drink up, .Alaska!