The news burst like a thunderclap over the Boston area a week ago today. The transfer pipe from the Metrowest Tunnel to the City Tunnel had burst, and about 8 million gallons per hour were flowing into the Charles River instead of the city's water distribution network.
Being safe instead of sorry, the governor issued a boil-water order for all the MWRA communities East of the break, and bottled water instantly disappeared from stores in eastern Massachusetts. It looked bad, and the worst was expected.
But then a funny thing happened. The pipe was fixed in 48 hours, and water service was restored by Tuesday. Further testing revealed that there was no crisis at all, and the water was safe the entire time, even through the alternate tunnels and emergency sources. The system worked!
But the entire event threw something into clear focus....something we in the 'civilized west' take entirely for granted. A safe water supply.
Others in this blog have experienced a water crisis; the then-Atlanta wing of the blog went through the Southeast Drought of 2007 where they expected the faucets to run dry at any time. That was more severe than a broken pipe; the entire supply was threatened.
Wars have not yet been fought over water, but that day may come soon. Even in the United States, there has been vast struggles over sources of water for an ever-growing population. It's not something we think about often, but spend some time reading about Mono Lake (California), the Colorado River (Arizona) or the towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott (Massachusetts) to see the consequences of our increasing demand.
Even living out of bottles for just two days made me appreciate the "on demand" nature of our tap water. Brushing teeth, washing dishes, rinsing foods, and other things became carefully choreographed exercises in using the least amount of water possible.
Water itself is a finite resource; we're all familiar with the so-called 'water cycle', and everything that happens between rain and evaporation. But all the water that's on the earth is already here. No more is created, but it can be lost through pollution, waste, and other means.
Like our other vanishing resources, water too can be conserved. like point #1 of the following list says: There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.7 comments (Latest Comment: 05/09/2010 16:38:10 by livingonli