Wa­ter, wa­ter

Stanstead Journal - - FORUM -

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.

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