Water, water, everywhere?

Sister alies therese

Complete the circle
By Sister alies therese
Maybe you remember reading this article in the NY Times in 2015 (Lizette Alvarez, 7/14/15)? All about the drought in Puerto Rico? Right the drought. The drought was causing an already deep in debt Puerto Rico more than $15million per month. One of the worst droughts in Puerto Rico’s history! Carraizo, the major reservoir, dropped more than 18 feet. more than 160,000 residents had water off for 48 hours and then on for 24; another 185,000 going without water in 24 hour cycles; and 10,000 or more were on 12 hour cycles. Alvarez reported the drought was caused by El Nino and most of the reservoirs were within 30 days of running out of water.
When she interviewed Mr. Davila he said: “Friends are showering at work or taking luxurious 30 minute showers on days when the water is flowing, not paying much attention to how much we waste and what we can do without!”
Mr. Saldana of the Aqueduct Board was asked how long the drought would last…he pointed skyward and simply said: ‘Ask Him.’
Have you though much about ‘water scarcity?’ We have become so attached to the water bottle, cup, coke or favorite tea/coffee, we forget just how scarce drinkable water can actually be. In fact, I think out of all our resources across the globe, water is the one we will fight over most, even more than oil or food.
The human body can live for several days, if not weeks, without lots of food. However, we cannot live without hydration.
I found some interesting information online to share with you: Water scarcity: is a lack of sufficient water to meet the needs within a region. Every continent is affected today. Some 2.8 billion people lack access to clean drinking water.
Water shortage: may be caused by climate change, droughts, floods, pollution and overuse of water.
Water crisis: means that potable (unpolluted) water is less than a region needs.
Physical water scarcity: means there are inadequate natural water sources available. There is also a shortage of water available for sanitation.
The United Nations Millinneum Declaration aimed by 2015 to “halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or afford safe drinking water.” I’m not sure if that goal was reached but seems very important to do so.
Here’s a mouthful: there is 1 quadrillion acre-feet of water is on Earth. My mind boggles…and yet only 162.1 billion acre-feet is fresh water for human consumption. More than 1 billion people live in a stressed water condition – that is one in every six of us. Water stress is intensifying in China and India and in sub-Saharan Africa more than a quarter of the population is water stressed.
When there is change in climate the glaciers recede, there is reduced stream and river flow, and ponds and lakes shrink.
When there is water crisis it means inadequate drinking water for more than 884 million people across the globe. The World Bank reports that 88 percent of all waterborne diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene. Some countries seem to have so few choices.
Economic water scarcity is caused by lack of infrastructure investment to draw water from rivers, aquifers or other water sources, or insufficient human capacity to satisfy demand. This means people have to travel very long distances daily to fetch water often contaminated by domestic or agricultural waste.
In the U.S., 95 percent of our water is underground. As farmers in the Texan High Plains pump groundwater faster than rain replenishes it, the water table drops.
Then there’s our Puerto Rico. I did mention the drought. Now I must remind you that some few weeks ago Puerto Rico (along with Virgin Islands, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, even a bit of Mississippi) was hit with floods of water and the near drowning of the island, probably not what folks prayed for a couple of years ago during the drought.
How much do you use for a shower? Every day? Or a bath? How long do you leave water running while brushing your teeth? It actually makes a difference to our own state and to our friends across the world.
Water features big in the Hebrew Bible (ask Elijah, consult the Psalms) and even in the New Testament we find the first major action of Jesus’ ministry: His baptism in the Jordan. The woman at the well will hear from Jesus: ‘Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give will never thirst; the water I give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4:14)
Have you ever considered that key to our sacramental system is water? This very water. Baptism…whether we are submerged in the Mississippi River, or baptized with a few little teaspoons, water is crucial. When someone becomes a Eucharistic Minister, I see them in the community feeding the hungry.
Our commitment to reversing some of this water scarcity has to do with our willingness to put our baptism to work. Whether we are helping build wells, reorganizing our thinking about our own personal use, or now being tested by the savageness of the waters of Hurricanes Maria, Harvey or Irma, we need to be much more thoughtful and prayerful. Puerto Rico has a lot to remind us of and their cries (also water) for help must not go unheeded. At this writing, still

less than 70 percent of the folks in Puerto Rico have useable water. Blessings.
(Sister alies therese is a vowed Catholic solitary who lives an eremitical life. Her days are formed around prayer, art and writing. She is author of six books of spiritual fiction and is a weekly columnist. She lives and writes in Mississippi.)