As we read the Stanstead Journal years past, there is a recurring theme for over one hundred and seventy years: Water. Yes, with a river crossing Stanstead, as all other villages either with a river or lake bordering them, drinking water was always a problem.
For a town built on hydraulic power, Stanstead needed drinking water almost from the beginning, and pollution later on created problems in Ayer’s Cliff and North Hatley. Yet the cost of infrastructures is much less than the value of human cost during decades. Who wants to buy a house when the first thing that you learn is that you have to boil your water, and that it has lasted a decade? Let’s not even try to count the money lost when you have to sell a house in these conditions. We can easily estimate that millions in real estate value were lost, along with the tax money that goes with it.
So next Sunday is World Water Day, with the usual doomsday television report on the dire situation in whatever warm country reporters want to be sent to during winter. Why there are never reports on the drinking water shortage in Siberia is always a mystery to us.
So, in ‘name your warm third world country’, we will learn that thru the effort of some charitable organisation, a village finally has drinking water. Let’s hope that the camera person is not showing the cell phone tower in the background, nor the ubiquitous satellite antenna on every house.
It seems easier to illustrate the problem in a third world country than right here at home but this winter has reminded us of the absolute decay of our infrastructure that is unable to withstand this winter cold. There is not a municipality in Quebec that has not had an episode of bursting pipe or two or more.
There is a lot more about drinking water than pumping it. It’s in a way easier in the stereotypical village in the deep of Africa. You put a pump somewhere and people come and bring the water home.
And since you have to physically haul it home and a five gallon pail weights around twenty some kilos, every little drop counts. If we had to bring home the water that most households consume daily, it would take around fifteen to twenty trips to the well. If only it ended there! Now, even in the most remote part of this planet, everybody now knows that water is essential and dangerous. It was not always the case; the notion of sewer is quite new in humanity. So not only do you have to get the water in, you must also take the water out. Somewhere not too close to the well and preferably far from the village, in a stream or river that will dilute that soiled water.
Since we don’t have to physically do that work, we tend to forget about it. We don’t even notice it on our tax bill. Which keeps growing year after year.
But don’t worry, no television crew from Africa will come our way on World Water Day.