There’s a boil-water advisory on here in Montreal.
The announcement came out about noon yesterday, just as I was meeting Brenda of burnsthefire for lunch, and the sweet young waitress seemed lost and confused as she almost served us presumably un-safe tea. After lunch, B & I went for a walk, then there was a mad dash to get the girl I’m babysitting to her tutor at the other end of the city, and while she was at the tutor I hit up the local grocery store for bottled water. Two bottles were left on the shelf, and a man stood in front of me, reaching for one of them. We exchanged sheepish glances and shrugs as I reached for the last bottle.
Back at the apartment I started boiling big pots of water, put the girl to bed and was so tired and thirsty but realized our bottled water supplies were limited and the boiled water was
a) hot and
b) still looking a pretty dirty shade of orange
so I rooted around in the fridge and found some beer and drank that.
(Note to self: beer is not quite the same as water. Not a good idea to quench thirst that has been growing all day, craving water, with beer. Somewhere in the night I tweeted something garbled and incoherent and perhaps vaguely sweet (if you’re feeling generous) to Brain_Rants, a very new acquaintance who I should be trying to impress with cleverness and panache. Oops.)
Anyway – the water advisory. It’s one of those things where nobody seems to know quite what’s going on and why, but in a funny way, people begin to connect over the unusualness of the situation, the strangeness becoming a point of conversation, opening up new pathways for human interaction.
I remember the ice storm back in ’98, and how we made great new friends while hanging out at the public shelter the YMCA on Ave du Parc had set up, sharing strategies for cooking food with no electricity, trading tips on which stores were still open, running on generators.
So I’m waiting for the silver lining of this little water scenario.
Meanwhile it has me thinking about water, about how we take it for granted. They say folks from around the Great Lakes are water hogs, cause we’re so used to having so much clean water at our disposal, we give no thought to it.
Not like a lot of First Nations communities, removed from the easy access to clean water, whose natural resources have often been polluted, of whom 113 were under long-standing water advisories as of this January.
And not like folks in China, for example (random factoid: over 300 million rural Chinese have no access to safe drinking water).
There’s a lot of talk out there about how water will be the next oil, the next big commodity, the next resource so essential, wars will be fought.
Funny though, cause you can’t drink oil.
The average human being needs 50 litres of water a day for drinking, cooking and sanitation. The average North American uses 600 litres a day. The average African uses 6 litres a day.
Seven hundred million people in China, out of a total of 1.3 billion, drink water that doesn’t meet the minimum health standards set by the World Health Organization.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, more than 130 million people don’t have safe drinking water.