Monday, 26 March 2012

Easy Water

This summer water looks set to be a top environmental priority in the UK. I've already done a couple of blogs on it this year and every day there seem to be new stories, policies and opinions on drought, how to save water and where it should be used.

Last Thursday was World Water Day and the Guardian published a set of photo's to mark the occasion. You can see the pictures here and looking at them my main thought is how easy water is in the UK. 

Even with hosepipe bans across the country I doubt we'll reach a stage where we run out of fresh drinking water this summer. We hardly notice water in our day to day lives. So far today I've had a shower, washed up, had a drink, used the washing machine, boiled some for a cup of tea and watered the garden. That's all in four hours and I didn't need to think about how I would get the water, where it came from, whether it would be clean or if I needed to save it for later in the day.

My generation has grown up with television images of African droughts, with adverts from charities who build wells and the knowledge of the long walks some people make even for dirty, unsafe water. But because we've grown up with it it's easy to let it wash over us, as just part of the background noise. One quote which always sticks with me is from George Orwell who said that the ultimate obscenity would be when one half of the world could watch the other half starving to death on television. The world reached that point in the mid 80s, before I was even born. Now we've moved a step further, one half of the world have turned off the TV, not because they can't bear to watch (although that must be partly it, out of sight, out of mind) but because they've seen it all before and it's not news anymore.

It's too easy to forget how lucky we are and how easy water is for us. At the very least we must value this gift of fresh, clean, life giving water and make sure we do everything we can not to waste it or misuse it. Whether that's having shorter showers, only washing clothes and dishes when we have a full load or actively giving to water charities to help others find out how good clean water tastes and feels.

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