Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Down the Drain

Today I was watering the raised beds at a local school and focusing on the ease of water access when I understood the injustice of water distribution. Even if I must get a key to turn on the spigot, all I do is turn my wrist and out comes clean water! I do not have to put up a political fight, add iodine tablets, or walk further than fifty feet with a bucket of water. Around here, get clean and relatively cheap filtered water to use on things that do not necessarily require clean filtered water.

We also put our waste into clean water (maybe the bowl is dirty, but the water comes in clean) only to create a waste product. Isn't our waste already waste and will just break down without the help of clean water? Fresh water access knocked out most of the need for outhouses or composting toilets.

While we are becoming more efficient in terms of consumption per capita (some of which may be attributed to a more capitalistic model of paying for the value of water), the U.S. still consumes more than three times as much water per capita. Water access is a topic as complex as food access: one that is compliated by politics, weather, the natural landscape, and personal desires. I cannot attribute one cause for why I have easy access to clean water and others do not, but I plant to explore this further. All I know is I must be grateful for the ease of gardening, cleaning vegetables, and washing myself.


  1. Yes, we should count our blessings with the availability and ease of using water here in the U.S. Thanks for the reminder. Our water is precious ... must conserve when we can even if it doesn't seem that we have to.


  2. Holy cow, what a great post. I think about this a lot.

    I've read that one aspect of a global food market is the ability to transport water around the world - in the form of food. So that people who live where water is scarce can still eat.

    Nicholas Kristof, a columnist at the New York Times, calls being born in America "winning the lottery of birth," at least for many of us.

    That chart is interesting. Does it show that after 1980 our withdrawals (our use?) of water declined? Even as population continued to rise?

  3. When we were kids, municipal water was free... so nobody gave a thought to letting a hose run. Similarly, the eighty-year-old at the far end of the hogback, who was born in this valley, and whose grandpappy settled it, has a well on his land... and lets his lawn sprinklers run for days. Days.