“Thousands have lived without love, not without water.” W. H. Auden
At the end of every morning run, after seventeen ounces of water is depleted through sweat, I head toward a water fountain in the park to rehydrate, but most days I prefer the cool Brita filtered water in my refrigerator. Like many, I take this colorless, odorless, transparent liquid for granted, believing every day it springs eternal. But every now and then, I’m reminded through monthly maintenance of water pipes and water interruptions in my apartment complex of the impossibility of existence without H2O.
That truth was presented again as I watched the reality TV show, Alone, which premiers on the History Channel. I admire the men and women taking the challenge of surviving on their own in the wilds of Vancouver. Just recently, I paused for thought as a banner ran across the screen reminding viewers that people can survive without food for more than three weeks, but only three to four days without water. Amazing, but it makes sense. The human body is, after all, sixty percent water. Our organs and blood bathe in it. When the body is dehydrated, organ failure and death are imminent. That in itself conveys how powerful this elixir of life.
I live in New York City, where supposedly, our tap water is one of the cleanest in the United States. No matter how much that fact is touted, I still prefer my filtered water. Okay, there’s a certain amount of distrust, and recently my skepticism is feeding off the water tragedy in Flint, Michigan. How could state officials believe cutting cost by replacing water filtration system with a cheaper one was up for debate? Government cost cutting measures amounted to a total disregard for human health and the consequences of lead contamination on future generations. How could they live with that knowledge? It’s unforgivable. Every human, not just the privileged, but every human on this planet deserves access to clean water.
Ismail Serageldin stated that “The wars of the twenty-first century will be fought over water.” Well, it was a meteor that ended the epoch of dinosaurs, maybe droughts will be mankind’s demise? I hope not. With that thought, I’m trying to be mindful of every drop of water I use. No more running water as I brush my teeth or any excessive waste of that precious hydrocarbon molecule.