This fantastic image is called Drinking Water and is by Anthony Asael at Deviant Art.

Today is Blog Action Day and the photo sums up what the whole day is about.

The theme is WATER.

You can go here to learn some facts about water.

But I’ll tell you some too.

Many of the facts about probably the most important human need are quite depressing. We all know about them.

Children dying from drinking dirty water.


African women walking over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is usually still not safe to drink.

Animals dying in the wild from lack of water due to land clearing and humans altering their habitats.

Rivers drying up.


Toxic waterways.

Nearly one billion people in the world lack access to clean water.

Children are dying.

The West overconsumes water. Those DAMN plastic bottles are everywhere. I hate the bloomin’ things. Every time I see someone guzzling water from a plastic bottle I bite my bottom lip in frustration. I have scabby lips because of plastic water bottles. The whole bottled water industry is such a joke. It makes me soooo MAAADDD.


Here is a sobering Bottled Water Footprint: The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled. So they end up in landfill or more than likely in the sea.


But I don’t want to go on and on about things we all know about.

I want to tell you a story about water.

It is a story that in many ways has changed my life.

When I first started teaching I had a boy in my class who was a refugee from Ethiopia. This was in the late eighties when Ethiopia was in the grip of famine, wide-scale drought and civil war. Remember Bob Geldof and his plans to feed the world? That aid was intended for Ethiopia.

Anyway, I had an Ethiopian boy in my class. His name was Bekele. He was 12 years old.

Bekele was the epitome of a phrase we don’t use much anymore – bright as a button. Remember when people used to say that? That’s what Bekele was. Keen to learn, interested in everything, well-mannered, a joy to teach.

Except for one thing.

Bekele couldn’t get over the taps and drinking fountains in the school playground. Sometimes he would disappear and I would find him, face right under the one of the taps, drinking away.

I can drink, he would say over and over again. It was half question, half bewildered statement. A measure of his disbelief that such a treasure could be real.

Bekele told me that his mother walked up to four hours a day to find water. In the blistering heat. Often without shoes. He showed me a flower pot that had filled with rain water –  muddy, full of leaves and stringy old roots. The water looked like this, he said.

You are rich, Bekele would say to his classmates, with your water.

I have often wondered if Bekele was surprised or even annoyed by the lack of gratitude expressed by most Westerners regarding the ease with which they can access clean drinking water. I remember bringing that point up in the staff room and some of my fellow teachers saying that dirty water is not something we should feel guilty about because we are not a Third World country and it’s not an issue we will ever have to face.

But I have seen country towns in Australia where the rivers have dried up and the communities have been devastated. I know a woman whose farmer husband committed suicide due to six years of drought sending him bankrupt.

If it didn’t rain in Australia for five years ( and I mean all over Australia) we would all suddenly be faced with searching and scrounging for our water. Perhaps we wouldn’t have to walk for four hours a day like Bekele’s mother, but our consumption habits would certainly change.

We are so lucky that this is an everyday sight.

Image by highvoltagelove at Deviant Art.

We are so lucky we can just turn on the tap and drink.

Maybe we are richer than we know.

Do me a favour will you? Look at the ways your local government manages water in your area. Find out what strategies they have in place to deal with long-term drought. Find out what you can do to conserve water and stimulate rainfall.

And if you want to help kids like Bekele you can go here and sign the petition for an international water treaty so that clean drinking water can be accessed everywhere in the world or  you can learn about fundraising projects such as well-building.

Water is life. It’s as simple as that.

I think it would be fair to say it is the most precious resource we have.

15 thoughts on “WATER

  1. Maybe it’s a sign of the times; you used to ask for a glass of water in a restaurant, and they brought you water. Nowadays, they ask do you want bottled water or tap water?

    Place I was in last week actually charged for tap water! I shan’t eat there again.

    When I was in Queensland, I was struck by the number of notices saying this garden is watered using recycled water. Folks, ALL water is recycled! I take it they meant ‘grey water’


  2. A very important and well written post Sel. How lucky we are indeed. I hate any kind of waste and water is one of the worst, in terms of people taking it for granted. I don’t. Sadly, our tap water is toxic, that’s the only word for it so we resort to buying water at the stores. It’s that or get sick. How did things go so wrong…and so fast?


  3. Great post. In my office we have a filtered water device, which is basically tap water distributed through a device that looks similar to those that hold large water bottles. There is a little spout for hot water and one for cold water. I don’t know if the water is actually filtered – I’ve never seen it serviced. There are kettles being constantly refilled in my office, as there are many tea drinkers, and most of these people use the device, rather than the tap to fill the kettles, even though the water is subsequently boiled. This makes the filter device constantly out of charge. On more than one occasion I have seen people standing in the kitchen with an empty glass saying, “there’s no water.” You should have seen the horror on one guy’s face when I pointed incredulously at the water tap and said “there’s an unending free source right there!”

    This bottled water issue is REALLY important. I remember when bottled water started to be sold in stores and feeling so astonished at how stupid we are to be suckered into buying something that is in our homes for free. I will still buy the occasional bottle of water when I am on the road or something, as I’m not a soda drinker, but I think bottled water should be forced off the market. One day, we’ll be sorry that this basic human essential has been well and truly commodified.


  4. Geraldine is right. We put a filter on our our tap so we could drink it. People just up the road from us had nitrate contamination. We lived 20 min. south of that town, and weren’t taking chances. Our govt. allows all kinds of crap to be ADDED to our water, making what should be pure and healthy…. NOT.

    I know what you mean about taking it for granted. My dad took us to the borderlands in Mexico when I was really young. It was heavily impressed upon me that people DO NOT drink the water there. That was an eye opener for me.


  5. Hi Selma,
    It really angers me that in 2010 we still have places that are flooding, why? We have the technology to stop this. When we are in drought here in Australia everyone is basically running around in circles, yet when we get heaps of rain, we let it all run back out to sea, it beggars belief.

    There has not been any new dams built for over 25 years, population getting bigger, it’s not rocket science. Why are we wasting all this water when it comes down in bucket loads?

    As for other Countries, I believe a lot of the problem is mainly the Governments of those Countries or of course Dictatorships. You have a look at a lot of the poorer Nations, the people in poverty, yet the “powers that be” are living in luxury.
    Personally I don’t think the poorer Nations need our money which never seem to reach the people who need it the most, they need hands on, people to built the pipes for them, get the water to were it is needed etc. teach the people how to replace or fix these things when something goes wrong, there is no need for people to not have access to clean drinking water.

    The main reason you saw all those signs about recycled water, Queensland was on very strict water restrictions for years, and believe it or not people were ringing the councils and doping people in for using water in the garden. (There were fines for misuse of water) So as people started to put in water tanks, they also put up signs to mainly let others know that there weren’t wasting water. 🙂


  6. Three words: SNOWY MOUNTAINS SCHEME!!

    They promised great things when we visited in 1964 … they said the Murray Basin would never want for water again. Guess it didn’t live up to expectations?


  7. It’s not safe for us to drink our tap water in Vicky either, unfortunately, as the authorities have allowed fluoride to be added because they’re concerned we are incapable of brushing our teeth properly. Yet they are unconcerned about the toxic and cumulative effects of fluoride poisoning: depression, concentration and memory problems, and interference with brain development of infants. And – oh, yes, that’s right: it damages your teeth.

    We’ve just recently supported a (semi) local potter by purchasing a hand thrown ceramic water filter with a fluoride filter attachment. Now we can drink our water.


    I was charged for a glass of tap water last week too. $3.50! I couldn’t believe it. It would have been cheaper to buy a bottle of Evian. It really annoyed me, actually. I got the tap water so I wouldn’t use a plastic bottle. Sometimes you just can’t win.

    They did mean grey water. It started with the droughts we’ve had recently. A lot of people have had rainwater tanks installed too.

    I had no idea you couldn’t drink your tap water. That is awful. It is such a shame it can’t be fixed up so you can drink it. It must be expensive to buy in all your water. It’s just not right.

    We are very lucky considering we live on such a dry continent. I read a lot about water on the weekend and was surprised by how many so-called Westernised countries don’t have safe drinking water. When you think about it, that is outrageous.

    I completely agree regarding water becoming a commodity. I remember seeing my first bottle of it and being shocked. It just seems so unnecessary and with recent stats re. the disposal of the plastic bottles seems downright irresponsible.

    We have a water filter on our tap at home. Years ago there was a cryptospiridium and giardia scare in Sydney and a lot of people got very sick.
    The filter does seem to get all the nasties out. I have no way of testing the water though, so I can’t really be sure. It is a shame so many people have lost confidence in their local water supply.


  9. Hi AINE:
    It is so worrying to hear about nitrate in your water. I think the very least our governments can do is provide us with clean drinking water. It frustrates me so much. And yes, travelling really brings to light the problems other places have with water. I’ve seen it too.

    Hi MAGS:
    I completely agree with you re. the rainwater. To see it all just running away is so frustrating. They say that most of the dams in Sydney were built in the wrong place and that rainfall patterns have changed so much that they are almost obsolete in the positions they are in. However, I doubt they’ll build new ones. And yes, government corruption does directly impact on water supply in poorer countries. I think a lot of charities have realised that and are engaging in a more hands on approach to providing water such as well building. It is encouraging to see.

    We’ve certainly paid the price for that bloomin’ Snowy Mountains Scheme. Now they’re trying to fix up the Murray Darling and it is causing all sorts of trouble. I don’t think they’ll ever get it right.

    Hi DAOINE:
    I read that about fluoride. We have it in NSW too. I can see the benefits it has for dental health but I do wonder about the side effects. The filter should be a good way to go for you, but it is still worrying. I’d like to think that drinking water isn’t going to give me health problems later in life.


  10. Fluoride only has dental benefits if it is applied topically, like in a toothpaste. Which is why it is such a stupid practice to add it to drinking water where the effects are toxic. I grew up with no fluoride in the water and I have healthy teeth with no fillings.


  11. Hi DAOINE:
    I don’t really know that much about fluoride, truth be told. I had hoped the government might have researched the side effects before chucking it into the water but then if I believe that I might as well believe that pigs truly can fly 🙄


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