A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times



Once upon a time there was a cloud and as is usual with many clouds, we had rain falling from it. And when that rain falls, it falls on what is commonly called a catchment. And the catchment is the area that surprisingly ‘catches’ the water that you drink. And it may be nowhere near where you live. It could be up in the hills or some other place, depending on where you’re from.

So the water falls in the catchment and at this time, it’s relatively clean. We say relatively, because the atmosphere is not real clean either, so the rain is known to pick up stuff from the atmosphere and interestingly enough, it actually lands on the ground a little acidic (acid rain?), which means it can actually take stuff out of the soil like heavy metals which will from then on, remain in the water.

Anyway, some of that water makes its way through the ground into what we call the water table (Ground water). And even though any water that comes into the water table gets purified a little by the great filter that is the earth, it still needs a little work even though some people are still happy to drink it.

However...

This ground water can have a lot of stuff in it too - again, those beastly heavy metals. And a lot of Australian (because that’s where I am writing this from) water isn’t good for you because of the content of these metals that you really don’t want to be consuming.

Fortunately...

We on the eastern coast of Australia are not too reliant on ground water. Instead, most of our supply comes from what is classed as surface water. Water that runs down the catchment, is stored in a dam and comes to you via those awfully nice people at the local civic water treatment plant.

And that’s how it works. The water runs across the ground and it picks up all the stuff that’s on the ground with it. And what runs around on the ground too? Wildlife, that’s what. They run around, pick up some ‘stuff’ to eat as food and drop other ‘stuff’. Domestic animals like cows and sheep do the same. They walk around, eat and drop ‘stuff’. 

And the point is that all that ‘stuff’, one way or the other, ends up in your water supply. Which is ok if you’re a kangaroo, wallaby, sheep or a cow because intestinally speaking, you’re good with that stuff. But we humans are a little more delicate that that and are not designed to deal with That kind of ‘stuff’ like they can, we simply don’t have the antibodies for it.

A quick fix...

Now when you think about water treatment, and what the council/water supply company does for us, you may be shocked to learn that they only really concentrate on trying to get rid of the stuff that’s going to kill you quickly, mainly because that’s the stuff that will get the most media coverage in a worst case scenario. They concentrate on the stuff that comes from the stuff in the previously mentioned catchment that they are looking for; the bacteria, the cryptosporidium, giardia, e-coli, all those sorts of things, they are trying to get rid of. And they do all that in the treatment plants through processes like chlorination and sand filtering, taking out the big chunks while trying to kill all the bacteria. 

This is pretty good news for us as it means you’re probably
not going to die through drinking your tap water.

However (again)... There’s a lot of other problems that come with chlorination and one of those is that there’s a whole host of organic compounds already in the water that the chlorine changes from being harmless into being quite toxic. Chlorinated organics they’re called and there are more than 6000 different known compounds created through chlorine treatment. And chlorine itself is not good for you either... it is not healthy to drink water with chlorine in it.

So while the water companies are concentrating on getting rid of the stuff that will kill you quickly and hey they’re doing the best they can. It’s really bad news when a major outbreak of gastro breaks out. it’s not good for their business or the local health authority.

And what about all of the daily basis little stuff that never really shows up? Where twenty or thirty years down the line, dying of cancers, or other diseases won’t even register on the radar because you can’t immediately put it down to the toxins left in your water? 

So water treatment is like a huge balancing act, a trade-off where they
do something about this which means they can’t do anything about that.

So to quickly recap, there’s a whole lot of compounds created that are not immediately toxic but must have some form of cumulative effect on us.

And then there’s another problem...

Your water has to now get from the water treatment plant to your tap. And in that journey, there’s a whole lot of other stuff that can happen because the water treatment plant could be thirty, forty or fifty odd or more kilometres away from you and that means a whole lot of pipes, some of them in not so good a condition and sudden changes in pressure can cause huge problems in a water supply pipes. When pressures drop, vacuums are created, along with backflows.

Pressure differentials can be induced by many things. Like the ground changing - causing cracks in the pipes, people accidentally digging through them etc. 

So the water that was treated at the treatment plant, was on its way to your house, and it has now gone via the ground for a while. And then there are the other pipes that run alongside your water main, sewage pipes for instance. And sometimes our digger friend is more than capable of breaking through both pipes together and inadvertently ‘connecting’ them underground. Cross-contamination they call it, and it happens quite often too.

So even though the water was safe to drink when it left the treatment plant (if it was), by the time it gets to your tap you really don’t know what you are getting. 

You honestly don’t know.

And there’s a whole lot of stuff I can guarantee is in your water that you don’t even want to know about. One case in particular was the Sydney water crisis where everybody in Brisbane was saying “Ha Ha don’t go to Sydney, they have bad water”


Well at the time, Queensland deemed fit to do something about it. And the thing they deemed to do was... NOT MEASURE for CRYPTOSPORIDIUM GIARDIA!! “We don’t want to know,” they said. And do you know why they don’t want to know? Because there is NOTHING they can do about it. There is no physical thing you can do at that scale to get rid of Cryptosporidium giardia. It’s in your water, it’s in our water, it’s in every water supply across the globe.

Everybody will know somebody who has had some form of giardia OR a bit of a tummy bug OR some degree of unexplained gastro-intestinal distress. 

"It was probably just something from the water,"comes the off pat dismissal..

So the point is you don’t know, you really don’t know how pure your water is, even if it was treated properly at the treatment plant, it come a long way to get to your door. A long, long, very long way.

And a lot of things can happen to it en-route...

It can therefore be concluded that the only sensible thing to do, is to treat all drinking water at the point of use. It’s the only way you know that what you’re getting is what you really want... 




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