You’re not going on a missions trip to dig wells in Africa, and you’ve never had to worry about where to get your water from each day. In the US, we are very privileged to have a consistent source of water, so much so that we can even waste it on things like water slides and washing our cars. Because of this, it’s hard to imagine that we really need to talk about water in this country; we have it, we use it, it’s great. What else is there to say? What we don’t talk about, though, is how to keep our water clean, how to conserve it, and how to make sure that it’s actually safe. We take our water safety for granted, but recent events like the finding of lead in Flint, Michigan and the instance of THC in the water in Hugo, Colorado show just how easy it is to throw things off balance.
We are Not Always Safe
We think about water in pools, hot tubs, and the like as needing special treatment and checkups to monitor the levels, but we forget that water treatment plants do the exact same thing with the water we drink every day. They constantly run checks on chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, etc. to make sure we’re drinking “clean” water. But those systems can fail (and have in the past), making them systems that we need to respect, support, and also be a little wary of. Would you prefer to just trust that your water is clean, but not know that you have a fracking site less than a mile from your home that is contaminating the ground water that then gets cycled through your home? Do you have a well that pumps water into your home that you’ve never had checked, but just “know” it’s OK because it’s never made you sick? There are things in water that don’t make you sick right away, but can pile up over time. People can get cancer, poisoning, digestive problems, and more – all because they’re not paying attention to what they’re drinking.
Take it For Granted
The other reason we need to talk about clean water, even in places that have perfectly safe water for drinking and other uses, is so that we realize what a good thing we’ve got. It’s hard to imagine a life where you can’t just turn on your tap and get a nice drink of water. We can’t imagine walking 2 miles each way with a bucket on our head to get water from the closest well. We can’t imagine not having toilets that flush, sinks that run, or not showering once a day for 30 minutes. In order to truly grow and respect our clean water, we have to address the fact that the majority of people don’t have what we have. When we respect it, we are more aware of it, and when we are more aware of it, we make it better and treat it as the privilege it is.