March 22 was World Water Day. West Virginia Highlands Conservancy member Buff Rodman happened to be in Mexico and offered this reflection:
It’s World Water Day. I am in Mexico and it’s giving me a different perspective on the value of freshwater. Here, freshwater, aka drinking water, means bottled water. So typically those big water cooler jugs, having a stand that holds one or two, and arranging to get full ones and hand over empties. Just arranging drinking water (filling jugs to put in the fridge…) takes up a portion of each day. All the other water, while relatively clean, is not potable. So, sink, shower, toilet, hose… Not drinkable. This also means you need to wash your dishes in expensive drinking water, or really make sure that they get dry before you use them. Or boil your tap water to wash dishes. No rinsing out your glass at the sink and reusing it again immediately. And wastewater treatment is nonexistent outside of a few places, resorts (maybe), parts of some cities.
This house we have rented has a pretty progressive but low tech system for using gray water to water the trees and plants immediately surrounding the house. It’s possible to move hoses and pipes to direct sink water where you want it to go. But it’s still detergent water going right onto the ground untreated. But most people are still just dumping water and sewage over the hill, so to speak. Which, of course, makes the whole freshwater problem even bigger.
So, next time you pay your water bill, thank your lucky stars. Yes, we have problems with our water infrastructure in the states, but not like much of the rest of the world. Most of us don’t plan our day around how we are going to get enough to drink.