Water, water everywhere…

Nick Wolochatiuk - Dances With Words
Water, water everywhere…

Whenever I’m in line at one of the large grocery stores, I notice that some people’s carts contain large jugs of water, or a dozen or two packages of the ubiquitous 355ml plastic bottles.

If they live in a rural area with a well that’s tainted with natural deposits of iron or sulphur, or agricultural run-off of manure, chemical-based herbicides or pesticides, or uncontrolled industrial wastes, I understand the reason for their purchase.

However, I know of people who refuse to drink our municipally-supplied tap water. It comes to us so cheaply I’m tempted to say it’s free.

Bottled water is nowhere near free, and the waste produced by the plastic bottles is difficult to justify.

At conferences, wedding receptions or social gatherings, it’s common practice to have a refrigerated supply of beverages available. My usual practice is to have my hand explore among the ice-chilled bottles of beer, fruit juices and colas in the hope of finding a container of water.

It’s common knowledge that the quality of bottled water is usually no better that what comes out of our municipal water treatment plants.

“Don’t leave home without it!” has been the slogan of American Express since 1979. It’s mine too, applied to a vacuum flask that was gifted to me about five years ago. It’s by my side on the road, in the canoe and even when I’m watching a video.

Depending on a variety of factors (such as temperature, level of physical activity and age), one can do without water for only a few days. Then the dangerous effects of dehydration set in.

The biggest challenge of a three-day hike along Adirondack summits is the ability to carry enough water. There aren’t many springs atop mountain peaks. There’s no snow cover on Mount Marcy in August.

One of my most treasured experiences is that of finding a spring gushing out of the side of a hilly forest area. If there’s a beaver pond, a vast weedless cornfield or industrial tailings over the brow of the adjacent hill, beware! The former can cause giardiasis, commonly called ‘beaver fever’. The chemicals in the others can be just as harmful.

Probes of our solar system are trying to detect if there is water on the Moon or any of our neighbouring planets. If found, I hope we give it greater respect than what we give to the water here on Earth.

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