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Nº 129 – Water

Saturday 9th July 2022.

… is a resource that’s becoming ever more scarce. Let me tell you about something that happened a while ago, something that ended in major marital strife. People will of course argue about everything and anything. Not only money issues, simple showering too can spell the end of a friendship…

So what was the mishap? Picture a woman standing under the shower, her partner wasn‘t at home at that moment. So there she was, fully lathered up, and suddenly, there was no more water coming out of the shower head… In the city, you see, no-one is prepared for a lack of water. You think the cooling liquid just flows out of the tap just as the power comes out of the socket in the wall. And only when the water is no longer flowing do you realise that you’re not alone in this world. If nothing changes there will have to be restrictions on water use: either it will have to rain for weeks on end or the use of water will have to be limited, and properly.

In the city a lack of water is only announced by the water provider at the very last minute. All in all a semblance of normality has to be maintained at all times. The last thing we want is to be a disaster merchant! To date people can hardly imagine that due to the ongoing drought – many dams are now dried up or nearly empty – the water may be turned off during the day. Do we really have to shower every day, do people have to wash their cars or sprinkle their lawn? People will always look after Number One first, won’t they?

The crisis back home is at fever pitch if there is no longer enough water for taking showers or for brewing coffee.

These days at the height of summer those facing up to the increasing scarcity of the most precious resource on Earth should always keep an emergency reserve of a large water bottle (five litres) in their bathroom as a resilience booster. I’m asking myself how the authorities are going to try and sell water rationing to millions of holidaymakers? These are people who like to take a shower at least twice a day …

Those who would like to change sides and join the problem solvers could consider fleeing the city and move to the countryside, and build a cistern there. Trading in a city apartment for a place out in the country will always bring a few advantages. Even just a small quantity of rainwater may be fed into a cistern, via rain pipes. And with a cistern, you can always find out exactly how much water remains. Rivers, brooks and reservoirs are slowly drying up. A country dweller will always take a look into their cistern first to check how much water there is left in it for taking showers and everything else…

And…

Yes, admittedly the author of this story himself is living in the countryside too. Planting a few indigenous trees needing very little water in your own garden at the right time of the year can solve many a personal climate crisis. This would be the only proper way to respond in a positive way to the drought: planting alder, ash, linden, chestnut, oak and carob trees, depending on the region, as long as they are indigenous trees and you keep looking after them: no eucalyptus, no acacia. Those are true water guzzlers. Small forests provide shade after a few years already, and their roots store water like a sponge. This would be a natural solution to the shower problem. Channelling your shower water from the bathroom directly to the recently planted young trees, without micro plastics however or chemical surfactants leaking from the classic shampoo plastic bottles, will make you a friend of nature. In this way healthy mixed forests will solve the CO2 problem plaguing our atmosphere. Solve it slowly. Very slowly. Unless every earth dweller was to plant their own tree. At least one, if a very small step towards a solution. Everyone of us can contribute something to solving a global problem.

We have to solve the problem of water wastage. There are still too many people living on this planet that waste too much water. I don’t want to be bitching. Personally, I shower once or twice a week. That too can lead to marital strife. However, it does solve my own personal climate crisis.

Normally, water falls out of the sky in the shape of rain. Over the past few years it has been raining less and less and following an ever more irregular pattern. We have to collect rainwater and use it carefully. The acorns I picked up during my autumn hikes and taken home, those I’ve mentioned extensively in former editions, have turned into saplings in flower vases. Some of those acorns I placed directly into the soil. Unfortunately they didn’t last a week even, snaffled by wild boar, dug up again and eaten. At the moment there are lots of wild boar living in the countryside, animals that are suffering with the fierce drought, just like ourselves, desperately digging for food and for the last of the watering places. At least they don’t take showers. Thank God for small mercies!

However, bees and many other insects too have to look for water, and are already hunkering down onto the saucers of the vases of the saplings, to drink, drink, drink. The situation is reaching a tipping point. After all we’re not on our own on this planet, right?

Uwe Heitkamp (60)

jornalista de televisão formado, autor de livros e botânico por hobby, pai de dois filhos adultos, conhece Portugal há 30 anos, fundador da ECO123.
Traduções: Dina Adão,  Rudolfo Martins, Kathleen Becker
Photos:Uwe Heitkamp, dpa

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