Saturday morning, as families in Boston planned for a gorgeous spring day, a ten foot water pipe, that brought water to over 2 million Boston residents, ruptured. Over 200 million gallons of water gushed out at a rate of 8 million gallons per hour. Authorities declared a state of emergency and imposed a blanket order for homeowners and businesses to boil the untreated water now flowing from their taps. Chaos and panic spread through the populace. A run on bottled water at stores resulted in scuffles and rumors of price gouging for clean water were rampant.
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority responsible for the water supply tapped into a backup system what drew water from backup reservoirs which were compared to “untreated pond water”. “Don’t drink the water”, the authorities said “use it for bathing or flushing”. Some residents walked miles carting water bottles. People were concerned they would not get their regular caffeine fix, while others said “I can’t even shower. I don’t want to get any nasty water on me.’’
In the space of 48 hours Boston residents instantly got a first hand lesson on how over 1 Billion people, nearly a sixth of the world’s population, live without access to clean water. While residents still have running water coming out of their taps, millions around the world have to walk that mile or more carrying gallons of water on their head. While city residents were fretting about how many minutes to boil water to kill the bacteria, they did not have to deal with the putrid, brown fluid that passes for ‘potable’ water in most of the developing world.
Today’ as residents of Boston struggle to get a fresh glass of water, we hope their thoughts turn to the thousands who go through this day after day around the world and reach out and do something to help. Watercentric is one orgnaization that is working hard to bring water and sanitation solutions to the millions of people who do not have the luxury of fresh water. A six dollar donation ensures water, sanitation and hygiene education to a kid in a school in India. A complete set of services to a typical school of 1000 students costs just $6000. Every little bit helps.