In Bangkok, it’s common knowledge that you don’t drink the tap water. Everyone carries around their plastic water bottles instead. And after a few days, you get used to walking around the city with a perpetual bottle as well.
Vancouver, Canada, where I live is a different story. Our tap water is generally quite drinkable. In fact, I’d always attributed our abundant water to the continual rain that we experience for most months out of the year. Water, water, everywhere.
The irony was not lost on me when, last month, a particularly powerful storm caused landslides into the Capilano Reservoir, and suddenly our health authority was asking 2 million people to stay away from the taps.
Cue: bottled water frenzy.
On that first evening, all the local grocery stores and gas stations were quickly emptied of their water. I wasn’t worried. Most of us figured the ban would last, two or three days at the most.
The weekend arrived and neither did a reprieve. The Salvation Army handed out bottled water to the homeless. A fist-fight broke out at a big-box wholesale store. I counted the growing stack of plastic bottles building up under my sink.
The advisory remained in effect for 2 weeks.
I’m not sure how long the residents of Bangkok have been relying on bottled water, but it’s now easy to imagine the day when tap water is no longer readily drinkable in these parts. A resource this valuable should demand the cultivation of good habits before it’s too late.