This June and July we went on vacation to Iceland. Iceland is a volcanic island, thus I expected its water to taste awful, with traces of sulfur and the likes. And then, the very moment I took a sip of its cold, plain tap water, I realised how wrong I was. Iceland's is the best tap water in the world. Here in Spain, there are places where you may frown upon drinking water from the pipes: high water strength make it taste odd, desalting plants produce oddly tasting water and some volcanic places have natural waters tasting slightly sulfur (this is where my preconception came).
Anyway, all over Spain you can buy 1.5L water for as little as 0.5€ and drink happily, if your tap water tastes awful. In Iceland, you can also buy bottled water, and it tastes almost better than the one coming from the tap. Did you know that the plastic used for bottled water in the United States comes requires an estimated 15 million barrels of oil, which is roughly what the country's oil consumption for a day?
Drinking running water from rivers, here in Spain can be very dangerous. Waste from industries, dumps from mining companies, or even farm byproducts make it risky. Not so much in Iceland: I drank from the gorgeous Svartifoss waterfall, and running water is drinkable almost everywhere.
No country in the world is as lucky as Iceland for its wonderful water resources, but most of the world is far, far worse than Spain. More than 800 million human beings don't have access to safe drinking water of any type, and more than 2.000 million people don't have access to water for sanitation purposes.
Local water shortage is frequent in all parts of the world, even in first world countries. Some regions of Spain, or even the whole metropolitan area of Los Angeles can't support themselves without external water supplies. According to a report by the United Nations, water shortage will be among the first causes of inter-state and civil wars in Africa in the next 25 years.
This July, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared that access to clean and safe drinking water and sanitation is a human right essential for the enjoyment of all other human rights, and required its member states to offer funding and technology to help poorer countries have access to it.
It is in the same spirit that this year's Blog Action Day is focused on water: we need to be conscious of this precious gift. Almost all bloggers and blog readers out there don't give a thought about this marvel that is running water, and it is time to do it. Sign the petition here.
Also don't miss my guest post at Iwith.org (Improving Internet technologies for NGO): Water & Technology Through History
33 Best Posts I Have Read This August, 2010
Book Review: The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield (highly recommended book)