Just a few days late for World Water Day

World Water Day took place on Tuesday of this week, March 22nd. Sadly, I didn’t know about it until it had passed. Still, I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about water (an issue I take somewhat personally).

The theme this year is “Water for Cities.” It is rare for those living in cities to think about where there water comes from but this is a huge issue and one of the most unsustainable aspects of urban areas. In Boston, for example, all the water for the city (and surrounding areas) has to be pumped all the way from out close to where I currently live, in Western Mass, from the Quabbin Reservoir. It is fed from several rivers and is the kind of beautiful, clean, safe water we are lucky to have and dependent on having in abundance in New England.

But if so much water from Western Mass is being pumped all the way across the state (taking a tremendous amount of energy to get there, ps), what are we left with out here? Piecemeal – various wells, reservoirs, and watersheds left over. And the result? The city gets the good water, and the residents of Northampton are left getting notices in the mail every few years that drinking the town water may lead to an increased chance for cancer.

And what about Boston? What happens when that massive piece of infrastructure – the pipes and pumps that bring the water nearly a hundred miles east – fails? Well, that happened last summer. And it was a shitshow. People freaked out – not least of all because they could no longer get coffee at their local Dunkin’ Donuts, whose coffee makers connected directly to the water supply. Luckily, repairs were able to be made enough to allow water from a backup reservoir in Newton to keep the pipes flowing. It was unfiltered water, but it was water, and a week later everything was fixed and forgotten about. But what if there hadn’t been the backup? There is said to be a three day supply of food and water at any given time in urban areas in the US. What happens after those three days? Imagine, in New York City?

In Baja, water was an even greater issue. It rains TWO INCHES A YEAR – the amount of rain we sometimes get in a week here. Water limits what food can be grown, what the land looks like, everything. And those two inches of rain? It all comes in the same month, and so quickly that it can be more destructive than helpful. The urban/rural water phenomenon also exists there. We would drive to the city, San Jose del Cabo, and see massive resorts, complete with fountains out front, and accompanying golf courses, covered in lush green grass – and right across the street, a dusty, barren, destroyed piece of land. Those resorts were pumping the water from all over the peninsula, often purchasing water rights from rural landowners, tempted by the money. It is not a sustainable model.

So that’s my rant for the day. How often do you think about water?

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