Saturday, March 26, 2011

Water, water everywhere


World Water Day was observed earlier this week on March 22nd. Water- so essential to life yet so abundant in Canada that we take it for granted. According to Nature Canada "each (Canadian) uses about 57 gallons (260 litres) of water each day - about 10 times the global average."

This month we have had days of rain, warnings about dangerously swollen creeks and rivers, and our largest snowfall of the season. My tap water is safe to drink and our water pressure is always good.


I downloaded Samuel Taylor Coleridge's epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner to my Kindle. Most everyone has heard the line,
Water, water, every where, 
Nor any drop to drink.

The parched Mariner, cursed by Night-mare Life-in-death, lived on after all his ship mates died. He survived the harshness of the ocean's 'too much-too little water' and went on to roam the countryside telling others his story of death and redemption.


This wetland is located adjacent to one of our city's water treatment facilities. I come here often to look for birds who are drawn to the shallow swamp during migration or as a home to raise their young. A city subdivision surrounds it and a few irresponsible people use it as a trash dump. But local schools teach students about the life these waters bring to fish, birds, amphibians, mammals and people.


I am certain our family does not use 57 gallons of water per person a day. But heavy water users in our community add to our daily average.

Industry, agriculture, energy production, car washes, supermarket produce sprays, hospitals...

We wash our hands 100 times or more a day at the hospital. Infection control monitors stand in the halls with clipboards checking staff compliance with hand cleansing each time we enter and leave a patient's room. Now we use alcohol foam rather than soap and water but large amounts of water are used in health facilities daily. I watch a patient, hands feeble, mind dulled by dementia as she cleans her dentures at the sink. The tap runs for 10 minutes. I say nothing as she goes through one of the few rituals she remembers.


Some patients I see can no longer swallow water, their throat muscles weakened by strokes and degenerative disease. We scoop sweet flavoured and thickened goo into their mouths when they ask for a drink.
Water, water, every where, 
Nor any drop to drink. 

It is good to be reminded of things we take for granted. I am grateful for health. I am grateful for the abundance of fresh water in Canada, the beauty of our lakes and rivers, and will be a responsible steward of our resources.

Here is Nature Canada's website with more information on water supply and conservation.

6 comments:

  1. Water demands respect! I foresee it replacing money. None can truly live without. I will surely die when I can no longer drink even a drop of water, no matter the reason why. Excellent post!

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  2. So true.I am mindful of the water I use and try to not work with the tap open.Why waste this precious resource.

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  3. Your description of the elderly in your charge is very scary. Not being able to drink beggars the imagination.

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  4. A thought-provoking post today and it bodes well for everyone to be thankful for the abundance of water to drink, bathe in, etc. Also not to waste needlessly because some do not have such advantages.

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  5. I am always aware of the water that runs from my tap and I think of it's seemingly endless availability everytime I turn to grab something and forget to turn it off.
    We really do need to be good stewards and consider all of those...near and far...who don't have access as we do.

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  6. Good reminder of all that we have and must not waste, Ruth.

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