Just a Drop to Drink

by Jeff Weise
March 12, 2018


It has been said that few people pay much attention to water until the day that they open the tap and nothing comes out.

Just a Drop to Drink.

It has been said that few people pay much attention to water until the day that they open the tap and nothing comes out.



We have all seen pictures or heard stories about poor natives walking miles every day to fetch water. Closer to home we have read about reservoirs running near dry in Georgia, heard about sea water leaking into the aquifers in southern Florida and witnessed the effect of draughts and water rationing in California.


In recent years the Holliston Water Department has taken steps to proactively preserve our water supply by: passing out rain barrels for personal use, providing dye tablets and other tools to identify leaks, limit outside watering during particularly summer months, maintaining daily records of consumption and establishing a tiered rate system to discourage higher use.

But, how would you react if you were suddenly limited to 13 gallons of water per person per day? That’s enough for a 90-second shower, a half-gallon of drinking water, a sink-full to hand-wash dishes or laundry, one cooked meal, two hand washings, two teeth brushings and one toilet flush.
As of now being reported by the BBC, the New York Times and multiple other international news sources, that’s exactly what the 3.9 million residents of Cape Town South Africa are facing. Further, based upon their current usage and dam levels “Day Zero” has been predicted to occur on May 11, or before. At that time the daily water allotment will be reduced to 6.6 gallons per person per day and, to obtain that, all residents will have to collect their allotment from one of 200 designated wells in the presence of armed guards.
 



According to Time Magazine (http://time.com/cape-town-south-africa-water-crisis/) past attempts at conservation have not been good enough. “This dystopian scenario is no bluff.” “Although a decline in agricultural use has shifted the date forward since the beginning of the year, there has been no significant reduction in urban consumption, accord­ing to the mayor’s office. Day Zero could just as easily be moved closer if city residents don’t continue to conserve. The looming shutdown has prompted chaos, with a run not only on bottled water but also on water tanks and jerricans. Once lush city parks and golf courses have withered, and public restrooms now urge visitors to flush only when absolutely necessary. High-end cafés use paper cups and plates to cut down on dishwashing. Many fear for their livelihoods; analysts estimate that the water crisis will cost some 300,000 jobs in agriculture and tens of thousands more in the service, hospitality and food sectors. If employees have to take time off from work to wait in line for water, it’s going to have an even greater impact on the economy.”

Cape Town may not be the first major cite to run out of drinking water but nor will it likely be the last. At least 11 other major cities are currently facing problems, e.g., Melbourne Australia, Sau Paulo, Brazil, Beijing, China, Miami, Fl . . . (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-42982959) Fortunately Holliston is not one of them. But the prospect certainly merits some serious thought.

Jeff Weise
Former Holliston Water Commissioner

 

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