Two nights ago, in Toronto where I live, a miracle fell from the sky. I’d almost forgotten what a soft summer rain feels like. We’ve had an uncharacteristically dry month. I know my perennials were desperate for a few precious drops of water. Despite my best efforts with the garden hose, a newly planted hedge was showing signs of distress. Certainly my lawn had retreated into a self-induced catatonia. And then, suddenly, wondrously, we were presented with precipitation. All became right again in the world.
Our part of the world, anyway. I’m fully aware that I belong to a privileged few who can actually count on clean water to fall, fairly often, from the clouds. And if it doesn’t, all we have to do is turn a tap. At our command, clean water conveniently flows inside our house. We can have as much as we want, at whatever temperature we desire. My households enjoys two outdoor faucets and eight indoor ones, in addition to multiple fresh-water hookups for toilets and appliances. The rest of my community is similarly fortunate.
In the rest of the world, there are people going without every day. The World Health Organization estimates that 663 million people are without access to suitable drinking water. That means for every single Canadian, there are 19 people somewhere in the world (and sometimes closer to home than you realize) who need clean water.
Yesterday a crew of four cyclists concluded their five-day, 1,000-km fundraising route from Calgary to Vancouver (that’s 620 miles for you imperialists). In order to raise awareness about Wheels for Wells, a charity that contributes to sustainable water projects around the world, the team completed their endurance event through the Rocky Mountains without drinking any bottled or tap water. The cyclists only drank from natural fresh water sources, like streams and lakes.
It may sound like they ought to have had water aplenty, and of course they did. We are in Canada, after all, where we enjoy a full fifth of all the fresh water in the world. But tell me, when’s the last time you drank from a pond? I mean, personally, I live close to a creek, but I also live close to urban runoff, and you wouldn’t catch me dipping into that murky stuff.
See how water-spoiled I am?
Props to the cycling team for their achievement. It wasn’t an easy road (no, really, there were a ton of hills), but their dedication helped an important cause. To them I raise a glass – of clean, fresh water, of course.