The fresh water that we use comes comes from the sky, and then gets taken from and eventually goes back to ecosystems. Well-managed catchments provide steady supplies of fresh water, while badly-managed catchments give us droughts and floods. Well-managed farms, towns and businesses don’t pollute the water, badly-managed ones do. Good water companies treat catchments and water quality with respect, bad ones do not. We have a right to insist that they are good.
The Support Local Water campaign is intended to boost awareness of these simple facts, and their implications. One of these implications is that we should think about whether or not we really want to drink bottled water. It has, after all, been taken from someone else’s water supply, some distant ecosystem, catchment or aquifer, and put in an expensive and polluting plastic bottle before being shipped and trucked – pumping out carbon emissions all the way – to us. Who needs it? The biosphere is worth more than that.
We have the right to ask pubs and restaurants to give us tap water instead. Have a look at Bottling aquifers, and see if you agree that it makes sense to do so. If so, perhaps we can can persuade local government, businesses and the general public here in Bath to use more tap water and less bottled water? Or none. We have a fantastic opportunity to promote sustainability in a city that was, after all, founded on its waters. And we can all save money too – Liverpool City Council estimates that it will save £48,000 in 2007, simply by serving tap water rather than bottled water in its offices.
But it’s about much more than saving on litter, or landfill, or oil, or council tax … our entire landscape has been abused for decades, and as climate change really starts to bite we are going to have to put things back together. We should have started years ago. The disastrous Summer 2007 floods were a warning that catchment ecosystems, aquifers, rivers and floodplains need to be taken far more seriously than our governments have ever done before. See: Flooding & political negligence for a new perspective.
And then, we’ll see if our local water company, our council, and our local citizens can cooperate with each other in a focused way, to get our water-bearing ecosystems back in harmony with the people – us! – that they support and sustain.
The Support Local Water campaign may be starting in Bath – but we’re going for issues that affect the whole country and the whole world. See also an exciting new initiative to replace bottled water city by city with free, public water coolers where re-used bottles can be refilled, with the coolers also being sources of knowledge about the local ecosystems supplying the water, the global water crisis, clean water projects in developing countries, and how individuals and companies can help.