Thursday, April 26, 2018

W - Water

Every time I see someone on Facebook or Twitter make some sort of remark about the Flint Michigan water situation, it irks me a little. Not because that situation isn't wrong, but because I live in a city of 28 million (Beijing) and the water here isn't safe either and no one says anything.

Now, the situation in Flint is a little different because it had something to do with some shady, behind-the-scenes deals and the public was not told about what was being done. That sucks and I am not defending it in any way, so please don't attack me over that in the comments.

However, stating that the people of Flint to not have access to clean drinking water is not true.

It's not.

If it were true, they would all be dead by now.

It is true that they cannot drink water straight out of the tap, but that doesn't mean they don't have access to clean water.

And this HUGE problem is just the way things are in much of the world.

I've lived in Beijing for the last 18 months and know that we cannot drink the water. In this huge city, the water is unsafe and there are no protests about it. The water is not only full of bacteria that could make you very very sick, but it has high metal content from the deteriorating pipes.

This problem is not just in Beijing. I have traveled around China and it is the same in every city I've been in.

I was in Ankara, Turkey a few years ago and we were warned do not drink the tap water. It must be filtered first.

I was in Vietnam a few weeks ago and was given the same warning. Do not drink. It's unsafe.

Now, in all of these places (Beijing, Ankara, Danang, Flint), a person has access to bottled water and various filtration systems. It is not ideal, but there is clean water to drink. It is only in Flint where it seems to be inexcusable.

In large parts of the world, people don't have clean water at all. They don't have access to clean bottled water and just have to make due with the dirty stuff. And their health suffers because of it.

Once again, I am not excusing the actions of the bureaucrats who created the Flint situation. However, I am suggesting that people having a situation the same as most of the rest of the planet is not the end of the world.


  1. Agreed. When I was going up in Sri Lanka, we had to boil the water for an hour (at least, that's what we did, I don't know who determined the time limit) and then run it through a slow filter. We always filled up bottles to keep in the fridge, and kept the water boiling and filtering routine going so that we didn't run out, but we survived!

    1. You are awesome. Let's go live in the jungle.

  2. You make a good point and it is the future in the first world countries like the United States. How Flint, Michigan differs is that people had the idea that the water was safe and the failure of having safe water was due to negligence and not the ability to produce safe water.

    1. Definitely, the deal in Flint was a crappy deal and there are a few people who should serve time over it. However, access is not the issue in several places. Including here in Beijing.

      They have a state of the art water treatment system. They just haven't invested in keeping it up to code and replacing the pipes when needed. This city is more than capable of supplying clean water for its residents, but the leaders have chosen not to do so.


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