Friday, October 15, 2010

waters of life

My good friend Laurie, over at
Honduras Gumbo, has urged us fellow bloggers to join her in writing about water today.

She is a gracious southern lady, and I was raised never to disappoint the expectations of women.  A principle I have met far less often than my upbringing would have expected.

I have written before about water and its micro relationship with us.  It is easy to take water from granted.  Especially, when you grow up in Oregon where the excess of water is a constant complaint -- usually, in the form that falls from the sky.

But even Oregon is a western state.  Due to the summer weather patterns, we Oregonians often suffer summer droughts.  Farmers and ranchers are far too familiar with that cycle.  Without the series of dams that constipate our rivers, we Oregonians would be as parched as any Wyoming cattle man in the summer.

Even with that growing appreciation of water in my former home, my move to Mexico has taught me just how rare a consistent supply of high quality water can be.

Like most people in my small fishing village by the sea, I rely on the water man (and it always is a man in our traditional village) to deliver large bottles of drinking water to my house.  The bottles come in 20 litres.  And I consume at least two a week.

While I was recovering from my broken ankle, Ivan (my water man), took me to the small water plant that filters and bottles the water he delivers to me.  The water comes out of one of the local rivers just before it empties into the ocean.  I have no idea how it tastes in its natural state  -- though, I can imagine. But it quite pleasant after being filtered.  In fact, it is the sole source of drinking water in my house.

Our local municipality supplies water to the house.  But I do not drink it.  The water is treated.  But it is pumped from the street into a large black tank on the top of my house -- where the water sits fermenting in the sun.

I have been told that the water is perfectly safe to drink.  But even my Mexican neighbors drink bottled water.  Not to mention the fact that the street water will often simply stop for a week or two -- with no warning.  Usually, a malfunctioning pump.  Or thieves with a wiring fetish.

So, I rely on the kindness of vendors to bring water to me.  And if the river flow stops?  What then?

That scenario is certainly possible.  Mexico City's water infrastructure is, at best, tenuous.  Water to homes is regularly turned off for a day at a time.  Sometimes announced.  Sometimes not.

For today -- this special day of water action --, I will leave the editorializing to those who have better data at their fingertips.  What I intend to do is simply stay more aware and act as a good steward of the water God has placed in my hands.

And simply ask you to do the same.


Laurie said...

Thanks Steve for taking the time to discuss water with us. And thanks for reminding us to be good stewards of what we have.

Tancho said...

Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink in Mexico. How sad that a country with resourse abound you cannot drink from the tap. We are fortunate and I thank nature every day that we can turn our tap and have great sweet water daily.
Several times we have been without and it makes you appreciate what other have to deal with on daily a daily basis.
I do what I can to conserve and protect.
Great moment to bring attention to what is going to be more valuable that oil one day, if not already.
A great book, I might mention is called Water Harvesting. It teaches how to collect rain water for daily use, not a bad idea....

Leslie Limon said...

We have a well in our back patio. Local officials come to check the quality of water every year to see if it is safe for human consumption. And every year it passes with flying colors. But we still prefer to drink bottled water.

On another note, it's nice to see that my favorite bloggers have joined forces to write about such an important issue!

Anonymous said...

Living in the Great Lakes region all my life it's easy to take for granted the abundance of fresh water that surrounds Michigan. I don't anymore, it's the most important resource on earth. With so many going without enough, I make an effort not to waste this precious element

Anonymous said...

I know I left a comment Saturday. Somethings up.

Steve Cotton said...

Laurie -- You are most welcome. Seeing all that salt water over the weekend makes me appreciate fresh water that much more.

Tancho -- You mountain folk have a great advantage when it comes to sweet water. By the time our water gets to the Mexican coast, it has a certain New Orleans tang to it.

Leslie -- Officials say that 80% of Mexico's tap water is safe to drink. The fact that most Mexicans I know insist on drinking bottled water is testament enough for me.

Francisco -- You did comment. I was simply playing internet hooky.

Whenever the topic of water comes up, I recall the importance Heinlein placed on it in Stranger in a Strange Land -- a libertarian classic.