Corey writes:

Today is Blog Action Day 2010. We try not to be too preachy in this blog, but today's topic is a very important one: water. Water is something we don't normally think about in the U.S. It's there, it's clean, we drink it when we're thirsty. Some people go a little crazy. However, over the last decade we've been tricked (myself included) into believing the stuff that comes out of the tap is only good for bathing our dishes or pets. Granted, there are certain situations where it's just easier to bring a case of bottled water, but those times are few and far between. And in those cases, there are many other reusable containers that could be substituted with a little bit of effort. Here's an interesting video by Annie Leonard about bottled water:

I've become more aware of water since moving to Koraput, where you are forced to think about the stuff. We're lucky enough to have a well and electric pump at our house, which means getting it out of the ground is relatively easy. As long as the power isn't out. And as long as we (and our neighbors) aren't drawing too much current at the time. The water is pumped up to a big tank on our roof, which means gravity provides free water pressure. Then we have to boil and filter every drop we drink, including tea and coffee, Kool Aid, etc.

The thing about all this is that we're the lucky ones. Many people get there water from tube wells, which the government provides for free, hooray! The state government is proud of this fact, and it makes for nice press. However, in a typical bureaucratic fashion, no one thinks about maintenance. "We kept 1000 T-wells working last year!" doesn't get as much press as "We drilled 1000 new T-wells last year!". So the reality is that many people still don't have access to water and end up walking a long distance to a well, or getting their water from surface sources like ponds or streams.

These surface sources are more vulnerable to contamination, which leads to bigger problems like the cholera and diarrhea outbreak that is affecting Koraput district right now. 173 people have died from these diseases in the last three months here. Yet in the U.S. diarrhea is a minor issue, certainly no one dies from it.

While these issues are local, there are potentially bigger issues on the horizon at the state level. Orissa is set to become a "water stressed" state by 2015 due to allocation of water to industry, inefficient irrigation systems, and pollution from human settlement. This is a central conflict in India: economic development vs. natural resources. Especially in Orissa, which suffers from a wealth of natural resources, but not much else. Water, land, and trees are often the only bargaining chips that can be given away to attract investment in industry.

Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

So, what can you do about this issue? You can be aware of it. You can start drinking your tap water. You can sign a petition. Google around, find a good organization that's doing something about water in the developing world and give them money. Thanks for listening.