Creation of utility commission enlightened idea

There’s nothing like a trip back in time to make you appreciate all the modern-day conveniences we often take for granted.

A book I was reading brought me back to the city’s origins and the days when Hoover Dam was being built.

Those folks were rugged. They endured long days of hard, physical labor under less-than-ideal conditions. Rickety elevators and transportation systems ferried the men from the top of the canyon walls to the base of the dam or across the river as construction progressed. Roads were not always paved — or at least not as smoothly as they are today — as they traveled from home to the worksite. Supplies were limited and had to be transported long distances.

It wasn’t much easier for the women who were left at home in the fledgling city. Setting up a house, taking care of children, preparing meals, and doing laundry and other related chores were much more complicated and time-consuming then. There were no microwaves, easy-to-prepare meals or fast-food restaurants. Or washing machines, dryers or nearby dry cleaners.

The houses themselves, especially those built for the masses, were not well-insulated, meaning they were hot in the summer and cold in the winter. And in the first days of the dam’s construction, there were no houses at all.

During a power outage, I really started to appreciate simple things like being able to get hot and cold running water inside my home, have whole-home heating when the temperature dipped to its lowest level all year, and flipping a switch to turn on a light when the sun went down. You don’t realize how dependent you are on something like electricity and what it means to go without it for a few hours until it’s not available. So many things in our homes run on electricity — things like lights, thermostats, televisions, computers and cellphone chargers.

There are also plenty of things that you don’t usually associate with electricity that definitely need power to operate; for example, an electric toothbrush or a blow dryer.

Sure, we all complain at the high rates for our utilities, and even more so when they go up, but consider the alternative.

I can’t imagine having to pump water from a well or tote my bucket from the nearest stream to get fresh water. Nor can I relate to having to read by candlelight or kerosene lamp, cook on a wood-powered stove or go out back to the outhouse.

Maybe if our city leaders and government officials could figure out a way to send us back in time for a bit, to experience life without our modern amenities, we could all learn to better appreciate what we have. Then we might be more willing to work together to come up with solutions to ensure that those amenities remain available for the future.

Plans to create a utility commission to look into our power, water and sewer operations are a good start. The matter will come before the City Council at its Feb. 27 meeting. It’s a step in the right direction and should be supported by us all.

Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at hsaylor@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.

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