Thanksgiving Day 3: Safe Water

Mountain Stream in South Fork Canyon

A mountain stream in South Fork Canyon just outside of Provo, Utah.

Yeah, I know. Who goes around saying how grateful they are for water that’s safe to drink, but I am. I decided to write about this because of something that happened today. While I was working an event, I went to the water fountain to get a drink, and someone who was from out of town working the event asked how I could drink the water. I answered that I normally don’t. That’s because as she knows, the water in the Phoenix area doesn’t taste so good. I usually buy bottled water. That’s how much I dislike the water here. But I shouldn’t take it for granted that I can still drink the water out of the tap.

As you know, if you follow me, for much of the last year I lived in China. China doesn’t have potable water running through its pipes. You have to boil it to make it safe to drink or rely on bottled water. This is the case in so many places around the world. While traveling in many places you should only drink bottled water (that you know has been sealed and bottled appropriately) and shouldn’t get ice in drinks. That’s one reason people around the world are baffled by American’s drinking and liking ice water or cold drinks.

Hongcun village man washing in pond by Kevin Earl

A man washing his laundry in the moat at Hongcun, an ancient Chinese village. Supposedly the streams/irrigation that runs its narrow alleys and paths are clean enough to drink from in the morning but dirty by mid-day because it is used to clean clothes, produce and meat. I don’t know if I would drink from it even in the morning after seeing the village’s central pond and surrounding moat.

Because of the population (an excuse I hated in China), size and building rate I don’t think they’ll ever have good public utilities with clean water to drink out of the tap. Fortunately, their culture has countered this problem by encouraging warm to hot water as an everyday drink. They have amazing water bottles that keep water near boiling temperatures all day long.

Another example, when I was 14 I traveled to Latvia for the International Boys Choir Festival as part of The Texas Boys Choir. We stayed in the nicest hotel in Riga and the water wasn’t only not drinkable, but it came out slightly brown in the shower. We relied on canned sodas because we knew it would be safe and clean to drink.

We are blessed to have safe, clean water to drink coming out of the tap. That is why I am grateful for potable water.

2 responses to “Thanksgiving Day 3: Safe Water

  1. Indeed! I am very grateful for drinking water coming out of the taps, too! I grew up in India: when I was a child we could drink the water out of the taps, but it was not possible for everyone. Nowadays, no one drinks water out of the taps in India. I understand what you mean. I often appreciate how lucky I am in this respect, too!

  2. My take on the hot drinking water in China was that you knew hot water was safe to drink because of its temperature: it was hot because it had just been boiled. And over years, the reverse — drinking cold water might not be healthy because its purification process wasn’t readily apparent — was strengthened to the point that cold water MUST be unhealthy.

    I really love drinking my water out of the tap. And I am also grateful for hot showers, another wonderful water experience. 🙂

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