I have passed this facility at our local market several hundred times, yet only yesterday, noticed a phrase in the advertisement which accompanies it. Please do not misunderstand, it is a wonderful thing that purified water can be so readily available to consumers in this way. To be clear, the motivation for this post came from the surprise that I registered when I read the phrase … “Like Water Used to be!” My first thought was, Does water not taste like it used to? And, if so, When did this happen?
I am aware that there are global concerns about water; and, in particular, the availability of clean drinking water to nourish an ever-growing population (human and otherwise). A quick gathering of statistics brought the many problems into clear relief; 884 million people do not have access to safe water and 1.4 million children die each year as a result of diseases caused by organisms which are found in unclean water. I am also aware, in some general sense at least, that there are significant water issues in the U.S. as well. What took me up short however was the realization (made so clear by the statement which is the focus of this post) that a number of folks apparently do not have access to water that is both delicious and pure … like [it] used to be.
I suppose I had thought that the real issues of water supply and quality were somehow concerns of countries in the developing world. What shocked me was the uncomfortable realization that these issues affect my world too. Sure, I know that there are worries about U.S. water supplies and that one in three counties here will experience greater risks of water shortage due to global climate change in the near future. Perhaps the fact that fifty billion units of bottled water are consumed by Americans each year should have given me a hint. The fact, which I was able to ignore in my little clean-water corner of the world I call home, is that water quality is enough of a local issue that facilities like the one shown above are here and they are here to stay. This negative realization is made more worrisome, for us, by the encroachment of the Marcellus gas shale industry. We wrote, in an earlier post, about the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on our own domestic and agricultural water supplies. Let us hope that the situation never, ever, mirrors that reflected upon by Coleridge in verse: Water, water, every where … Nor any drop to drink.