Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Water, Water, Everywhere

A comedian once described a meeting of foreign entrepreneurs that must have happened many years ago. These business types were talking about the gullibility of the American consumer as they discussed what they could get us to buy. A Frenchman named Perrier said, "You want to know how stupid I think ze Americans are?"

That was the punchline, but I don’t think many people would get it today. Long after Perrier was synonymous with popularizing bottled water in this country, there are more brands of bottled water than just about anything else in the supermarket. I was amazed to discover while grocery shopping with my wife this week that nearly the whole side of one aisle was stocked with something you get free out of your faucet.

Besides Perrier water from France, you can also get water from Italy, England, Scotland and New Zealand. Artesian spring water from the Fiji Islands is particularly en vogue now. I discovered steamed water designed especially for infants as well as fluoridated "water beverage" for older children. Calcium fortified, vitamin enhanced, carbon filtrated, ozonified, fruit flavored, carbonated, or cured by ultra-violet light. It’s all there for a price.

Not that I don't appreciate good old H20. Heck no! Canoeing in the wilds of Minnesota years back, my high school chum Bob and I became dehydrated when our canteens ran low. Then I remembered packing a couple plastic bags of ice in our coolers to keep our food from spoiling.

Sure enough, the ice had melted and I slaked my acrid thirst after first poking a hole in the plastic, promising Bob he could drink his fill from the other bag. Believe me, water never tasted so good. But when we opened the second cooler, we discovered that the second bag of ice had already developed a hole of its own. The water had leaked out into the cooler, becoming a muddy, silty mess.

Poor Bob. To this day, he bitterly remembers wanting to call for our rescue, or at least a parachute drop of a gallon or two of fresh water.

My son Scott, studying in Russia and living with a host family there certainly has a better appreciation for water now. The tap water in Volgograd is brown and undrinkable. Not only that but the apartment where he stays has been without hot water for going on two weeks. So his dirty clothes are piling up in the corner, much to the chagrin of his "Russian mother."

To make matters worse, a broken pipe in the neighborhood this past week meant NO water of any kind. In the middle of 100-degree heat. In a small two-bedroom apartment with Scott and his Russian family, and one bathroom. I don't even want to consider the implications of that.

Back at home, all our spoiled pooch Doogie has to do is to scratch at his empty water dish to get a fresh supply. Often I'll re-fill his dish singing, "Cool . . . clear . . . water." He responds by giving me a deadpan stare as if to say, "So what?"

If he only knew.


Blogger Spidey said...

Water used to be free. Even tap water costs money, and the price goes up every few months.

As population continues to increase, the need will increase for recycling water, desalinization, and other expensive methods to create potable water.

In a few years, water will probably be as expensive as Crown Royal whiskey.

11:09 AM  
Blogger simply me said...

Dave you are such a good writer....
My hubby Allen does not fancy all the hype about bottled water. As a matter of fact, often on drives I'll say oops we didn't bring any water, let me just say he'd rather die of thirst than stop and buy some. In our home in PA we have well water and it is the coldest, sweetest ever. Blessings to Scott for no hot water, no shower, I don't know...

1:03 PM  
Anonymous squirrel said...

Don't think brown undrinkable water is only in Russia! The water in our town has been like this more often than not for years. Too bad they don't have a Culligan man where your poor son and his Russian family are! I will be saying a special prayer today for them!

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great post, Dave. Very interesting. The richness of a civilization is judged by the quality of its water. Consider the Romans and their aqueducts. They were able to rule the world!
Water is a very, very important thing.
PS: I am guilty of drinking Italian water. San Pelligrino. scusi.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Nankin said...

I get so annoyed when I see people watering the street with their fancy sprinkler systems. This happens even when it's rainig. Maybe they should try visiting Russia and see what the rest of the world lives like.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Matty said...

Hi! Big Dave,
Poor Scott....life can't be easy in Russia. Nothing like travelling to make you appreciate home.
I was thinking maybe he can wash up in Vodka, but maybe after a shot, he wouldn't care if he's clean.
Do they not have public baths?
I live in a small town, and the water is brown and smells...so yes, we go through 3 (5 gal.) bottles a week, and a case of water for the kids, school, etc.
I won't buy any fancy water though.
Evian water spelled backwards is Naive..at 3 bucks a bottle.

It must be tough on Scott. No hot water, no bathes, 100 degree heat. Yes, we are spoiled.

5:07 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

with something you get free out of your faucet.
Hi Dave, those words are no longer true here in Oz with our rapidly dwindling supplies of potable water the charge for water have risen steeply and are still going up, it will soon be cheaper to buy bottled water than use the faucet.

6:28 PM  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

"Keep a-moving Dan, he's a devil not a man..." and so on and on.

(Huh. That makes ME thirsty.)

6:53 PM  
Blogger Lee said...

I never buy water. The water up here on the mountain where I live is so pure. Much of it is transported off the water and sold back to the supermarkets. So why should I purchase bottled water when I get it free from the clear, pollution-free sky and from a bore that produces clear, pure mountain water?

I think a lot of people buy bottled water just as a pose.

7:21 PM  
Anonymous Deb said...

I hope everything works out for your son soon. We drink a lot of bottled water because our tap water tastes so bad. However, when I lived at my childhood home, we had delicious well water.

6:45 PM  
Blogger Carine said...

how true, although, I have to admit, I hate tap water. EW. I'm always taking a "bottle" of the good stuff-Kirkland

7:15 PM  
Anonymous jan said...

The thing I don't understand, possible because I am impossibly non-trendy, is why people buy bottled water when there are few if any safeguards or tests of its safety. Our city water, which I really like, is tested constantly.

I'll just drink what my dogs drink as long as they get it from me.

7:24 PM  
Blogger WordWhiz said...

Ah...but the dog will drink pond water and eat feces. He would likely just LOVE it in Russia.

7:59 PM  
Blogger Spidey said...

There is a product called dog food and they sell it in pet stores and supermarkets.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

I'm not drinking that tap water!! I look at the glass and there are "things" waving at me....No No not that water. We buy spring and distilled water by the gallon from Wal-Mart. I even fill the ice trays with distilled water. At this time of year, TF goes thru plenty of drinking water while working out in this heat. I usually buy some 16 oz. bottled water and just refill them, for a while, with the other water. I think that, one of these days, I will buy a water filter and give it a try.

You are right about the dogs. This time of year they go thru two big ceramic bowls of water a day. I turn on the faucet, in the back yard, and fill it to the top. Missy will drink it as I'm filling up the bowl. I just read it was a good idea to put 1 teaspoon of vinegar in the water. It is good for their skin and it will help keep the fleas away. They are so thirsty that they lap it right up.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Hey, what happened to Grandpa and the Enforcer?

9:03 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Yuck, brown tap water?? That poor kid!! I'm sure he'll be happy when he comes home!

I'd like to believe that bottled water is purified in some way and doesn't have as much crap in it as my tap water...but who knows.

4:58 PM  
Anonymous schnoodlepooh said...

Hey congrats on your milestone below! Good for you. (we're the same age)

As for water, I think we tend to take it for granted unless we don't have it. I had a post over at my blog about my dogs' swimming adventures. We all love water - bathing, swimming, cooling off, keeping our lawns green, and of course, for drinking. Good stuff. Worth every penny.

7:00 PM  
Blogger MSU gal said...

Yes, you bring up a good point (and brilliantly written post) about how lucky we are to have our cool, clear water, especially in THE great lakes state. We just finished our annual "Water Report" to mail to residents and you can't find much better water in this world. In the future, people and businesses will be coming back to Michigan and the Midwest because of our natural water source. It is important that we protect this treasure. The auto industry isn't all we've got!

10:37 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

HI Dave,

Just wanted to wish you a happy Father's Day! Hope you had a great day.

7:57 PM  
Blogger Merle said...

Hi Dave ~~ Good article about Water
which is so essential to us all. I just heard on TV that drinking 5 glasses of water daily greatly reduces heart attack. Didn't hear if it was bottled or tap water. I have a filter on my tap, but do buy water for grandchildren.(Those
people with a cell phone in one hand and a bottle of water in the other.)Thank you so much for your kind comments about Father's Day.
Your son's adventures in Russia are so interesting. Getting lost and the water or lack of.I hope things
improve for him soon. Take care, Regards, Merle.

3:30 AM  
Anonymous Squirrel said...

I hope you had a GREAT Fathers Day!!

6:17 AM  
Blogger Kacey said...

Ewh! Poor Scott! Sanitation is poor at best in Russia. Bet Wendy is worrying --- I would. About canoeing in the wilds of Minnesota --- wouldn't the river water be a better bet than melted ice from a cooler? I know most kids drink a bunch when swimming without dying.
(Remember my grandson and his interview at U of M Law School? He's going to Duke, instead. Someday I'll have to tell you some of the winning things Michigan said.)

10:33 AM  
Blogger Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Loved the story. Great writing. Perhaps you should write short stories and sumbmi them.

Hows the weather up there? In Grand rapids it is much cooler today.

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:02 PM  

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