Monday, November 8, 2010

WATER! WATER!

"Water water everywhere and not a drop to drink ..."

That people don't have safe water to drink, can't bathe, isn't really real to me.

Haitians drinking unsafe water has created a serious cholera epidemic in Haiti. I've seen pictures of people in India bathing in the water into which sewage flows. Photos from other countries, of parched, thirsty babies, children, and adults, are shocking, but all I know and feel about thirst is what I've seen in the movies.

Of course, in my household, we use water carefully; brush teeth. wash dishes, bathe and shower economically. But, golly gee, if our city ran out of water, if bountiful rich, civilized America the beautiful, starts running out of water, what will happen?

My mind stops. It's a fence. I feel as if I can't handle another problem. I'm still recovering from the election -- I haven't really recovered from the months of ups and downs about the oil spill.

But it seems as if water is going to become a precious liquid like oil. There's already a business corporation working on capturing water from Sitka, Alaska, transporting it, piping it, into countries that have a desperate need for water.

The town of Sitka is situated on a large lake, a blue-hued body of water that's called "Blue Lake." It has trillions of gallons of water, so pure that the water requires no treatment. The True Alaska Bottling Company is making plans to develop a big industry there -- siphoning Blue Lake water into tankers normally used for oil, shipping the water to a bottling facility near Mumbai, (Bombay, India), and selling it to several drought-plagued cities.

But experts and authorities warn cities that allowing private companies to supply water can be excessively costly and unreliable -- a private company is out to make money. True Alaska won’t weigh the needs of water-starved areas like Phoenix, Arizona or Ghana, against the needs of Coca-Cola or NestlĂ©. They will charge what market can bear. They'll spend as little as possible on maintenance and environmental protection

While food shortages can be handling by switching to other food products, there is no substitute for water. There are currently two other giant private water companies, Suez and Veolia -- together, they are delivering water to 260 million water-taps around the world.

Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Santa Fe, N.M. already need to get water from private suppliers. New York, with its water shortage, is piping in water from the Catskill Mountains; Southern California pipes in water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Colorado River Basin.

But individual cities can't moderate or control what a private company does. Veolia spilled millions of gallons of sewage into San Francisco Bay. Last year Camden, N.J., sued the Suez Company for $29 million because Suez turned off the sewage pumps for a couple of hours a day, to save money;

I feel as if I'm Scarlett O'Hara on the top of a hill, looking down at my unsafe home and land, muttering into the air "I'll think about it tomorrow."

Experts say unless we manage our water better now, we will run out. When that happens, no pricing or management scheme in the world will save us from a time when people will be warring with their neighbors over water.

Good God, I can't think -- I don't want to think about this! Not today! But I have to. We have to think about this now.

3 comments:

Carola said...

Such a good post that I have nothing I can add. As I read it, I kept on thinking of things to say, and BINGO - you said it for me.

Fran Leonardis said...

Em, I know I talk about where I live in the mountains alot. But, we live near the Wanaque Reservoir which supplies water to much of Northern NJ. Every year we watch the water levels rise and fall. This year is no different. The levels are so low, that I am seeing rocks and trees that I never saw before when the water lowered.

Lynne said...

We seem to forget that water is life; we need to remember that and keep our water clean not only for us but all living creatures.

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