The water didn’t look right, didn’t smell right, didn’t taste right. People were breaking out. They had skin rashes, and people had hair falling out.
Kids in New York City public schools drank water nearly three times more often after dispensers of cool, fresh tap water were conveniently placed near their lunch lines.
Ashokan is one of the 19 reservoirs that supply 1 billion gallons of fresh water to the City of NewYork every day.
This intersection of poverty and water access brings to mind the “food desert” (an area underserved by grocery stores). Food deserts have created a public health paradox: without healthy food, the poor are more likely to be obese, relying on corner shops stocked with junk food. The difference is that when it comes to water, there is no alternative – fast food and sugary cereal might be the food desert substitute to fresh vegetables and whole grains, but there is no substitute for water.
“We don’t know that the water’s not safe, but I can’t say it is safe”
Other European countries obtain much of their drinking water from the surfaces of lakes and rivers, but in Denmark there are such large quantities of clean water underground that it covers the entire country’s water needs including domestic consumption and use, agriculture and industry.
“Plastic bottles have got to go. The bottles take so much energy to make, leach gross chemicals, and last forever. What’s convenient about that, man?”
Amar Guriro, a Karachi-based environmental journalist, and a WaterAid Fellow, has named Machar Colony “The town of miracles.” As we walk through piles of rubbish surrounding children using the streets as a playground, he explains that surviving here is only possible by the appearance of small miracles.
Machar Colony is built on land reclaimed from the sea. Where mangroves once grew, migrant workers settled down slowly and filled the swamp with literally any materials they found.
From Jiling to Guangdong, Jiangsu to Yunnan, industrial centers across China have been embroiled in a spate of water calamities whose damage and frequency are staggering.