We never know the worth of water till the well is dry. ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732 (British physician and preacher)
Earlier this week, a water main broke in my neighborhood, and the city issued a boil order.
For those unaware of such things, let’s just call it a Royal Pain-in-the-You-Know-What.
Municipalities issue boil water orders when there’s a possibility of contamination of tap water by protozoa, bacteria, or viruses.
Stuff like E. coli.
In our case, the break in the water main caused a drop in pressure, raising the possibility that pathogens could enter the system and flow to consumers.
I noticed the water was off at lunchtime when I tried to shove watermelon rind down the garbage disposal.
We called a few neighbors and learned they, too, were without water.
Then we checked our front door and found the city’s boil water announcement.
Of course we hadn’t put any fresh water aside because we hadn’t been alerted the water was being turned off.
So we had no water for drinking. Cooking. Hand washing.
Have you ever noticed how thirsty you get when you know you can’t have fresh water?
A boil order, by the way, means residents need to:
- Boil tap water at least one minute before using it to brush teeth, wash food, wash dishes or utensils, anything where water is to be consumed.
- Make sure pets have disinfected or boiled water, too.
- Wash hands with soap and boiled or bottled water.
- Use disinfected or boiled water to wash fruits and veggies.
- Discard anything prepared with tap water during the boil order.
- Continue until notified the order has been lifted.
I went to Wal-Mart and got three gallons of bottled drinking water. We also put big pans of tap water on the stove and boiled it for five minutes (nothing like being extra-cautious!). And I called the city — several times — to check on their progress fixing things.
By the next morning, everything was up and running, so life returned to normal.
But this got me thinking. Most of us in industrialized nations really take for granted the fact that we have potable water. Plenty of it. When we need or want it.
How sad that some folks around this world of ours don’t.