When we used to come to the beach when I was a little girl, I can remember the drinking water was God awful. To me it was the definition of nasty.Since then most beaches have put in sophisticated water systems and the water no longer has that horrible taste.
The first morning we were down here, I noticed my mother was making her coffee with water she had brought from home in a gallon milk jug. Not drinking coffee, I dismissed that as her personal preference. A day later, she dispatched my brother and nephew to the fire station with large containers to bring back water. Once again, I just went about my business.
Then last night, we were preparing Beaufort Stew for supper. (For those of you who don't know - Beaufort Stew aka Frogmore Stew aka Low Country Boil is Shrimp, Fresh Corn, Kielbasa sausage, and potatoes all cooked together with onions and Old Bay. Then when the Nector of the Gods is ready it is drained in a sink and everyone fills their plate and sits down for a sumptuous meal.) Anyway, my sister-in-law had been tasked with preparing dinner. I was in the kitchen offering assistance.
The first step in preparing the stew is to bring a large, as in several gallons worth, pot of seasoned water, to a boil. She had the pot on the stove waiting for it to come to a boil. About that time,from my mother comes this distressful call, "I know you are not using beach water for the stew." "I am. What else am I supposed to use," Denise commented. "Oh, God. You can't use that, it's salty and will ruin the stew." I had to intervene. "Mama, the water is not salty." "Well, it's bad, we just can't drink it." "Well, I've been drinking it every night before I went to bed."
There was an audible gasp from my mother and a smothered laugh from my sister-in-law (who was protected from my mother by the kitchen wall.) "You don't," my mother said. "I do. And, it hasn't killed me yet. And, besides, we're not drinking the stew, we're just cooking in it." "Well, there is no telling what would happen if we cooked with it. There is plenty of water from the fire station to use". To keep peace in the house, we dumped out the pot and started out again.
The fire station has a "special" faucet that for years has been available to anyone on the island who wants "good" water. My brother and I are convinced that it is just a faucet hooked up to the town water system. But, to my mother (and many others) it is the only water safe to consume on the island. But, whatever, if I wake up dead tomorrow, the first assumption should be bad beach water.