When I was 17, I spent six months as an exchange student in Mexico. It was my first experience with water management.
At that time, stand-alone water coolers in Canadian kitchens were unheard of. Bottled water had not yet hit store shelves, and we would have laughed at it anyway. Why would you pay for water?
So arriving in a country where tap water would make you sick was a culture shock. I spent six months brushing my teeth carefully, wiping the rims of pop bottles to remove any residue, and marvelling at the water cooler in the kitchen. The one time I did make the bleary-eyed mistake of drinking tap water on a middle of the night trip to the bathroom, the results were unfortunate.
One of the first things I did when I got back to Canada was turn on a tap and luxuriate.
I let the water play over my fingers and I took a good, long, cold drink. What decadence. What a gift.
My memories of that moment are the reason I’ve never jumped on the bottled water bandwagon. First, why would I want to pay for water? Second, how could I live with putting all those empty water bottles into our world? What a waste. But especially, why would I want to thumb my nose at one of our country’s greatest treasures?
As my plane flew over South America on my way here two days ago, I looked down on the undulating rivers below. The water did not shine back bright blue like our Canadian lakes and rivers would. The water runs brown, the colour of strong coffee with cream. South Americans have water, yes, but it has to be managed carefully. They don’t have the luxury of carefree water consumption.
No matter where you are right now—your home, your office, or even the most dreaded of unsanitary places, a gas station bathroom—go to a sink, turn on the water and take a moment to worship it. And I don’t use the word worship lightly. Worship it. Savour it. Water is our life, and Canada has the good stuff in spades. Let it play over your fingers. Take a big long drink. Do it for me.