A Day Without Water?

The U.S. Water Alliance, along with 1,100 other nonprofits, water and wastewater districts, municipalities, businesses, schools, and state agencies throughout the U.S. will observe Imagine a Day Without Water on October 23.  The event is intended to remind us of the importance of water – natural waters and working water – and to renew our commitment to good stewardship of it.

I’ve noted the day for years, but today I actually took the suggestion – that is, tried to imagine having no water.

Daniel Hecht

Well, I wake up and stumble to the bathroom to wash my face, but the tap is dry and my face retains that puffy, crusty feeling.  Then I visit the toilet, but after finishing my business realize that I can’t make it go away with a push of the flush handle. 

Okay, bad start to the day.  But I grump downstairs for some coffee to help get myself into gear – only to discover I can’t make any!  My son is crabby: He has to go to school still sweaty from yesterday’s cross-fit workout because he can’t take a shower.  Also, he put his clothes in the washer and they just went round and round and are not up to high school social standards.  Of course, it’s moot anyway, because the school calls to say it’s closed because the bathrooms, labs, and sprinkler systems don’t work. 

My wife is not in a great mood either – the dishes in the dishwasher aren’t clean, and the dentist called to say her appointment has been canceled due to the absence of water. 

The radio says there’s a fire on the next block, but the fire department can’t put it out. There’s a crisis at the hospital because they can’t clean the operating rooms, hallways, or doctors’ hands.  Now the radio is interviewing a farmer who can’t water her cows or irrigate her crops. 

The cats are looking at me disapprovingly because their water dish is dry.  And I’m getting thirsty, too. 

This litany of woes could go on and on.  In fact, throughout the world, this is the status quo.  There’s not enough water, or the water that’s available is polluted or poorly-managed. For too many, this is not just an incovenience, but a matter of life and death.

The thing to remember is that it takes smart water policy to keep the faucets running.  We have to pro-actively protect natural waters so that we can enjoy and use them.  We need functioning water treatment facilities to make it safe to drink, and we need wastewater plants to clean up water we’ve polluted.  We need, literally, millions of miles of functioning pipe, hundreds of thousands of pumps, to bring it to us.  We need a professional community with the skills to operate this infrastructure 24/7/365.

So, this October 23, ponder the importance of water.  As the U.S. Water Alliance suggests, you might write a letter to the editor, your town council, or your legislator, saying you support investment in water infrastructure. 

And don’t forget that your household, on its own, can help keep your wastewater stream clean and keep the water running – read GMWEA’s “Don’t Flush It!” brochures!

Daniel Hecht, executive director, GMWEA

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