It’s difficult to take seriously the cries ‘our rivers are dying, it’s all the fault of farmers’, when the river which boundaries our farm, and from which we source the water we drink, runs so clear you can see the bottom.
You can also see fish swimming in it.
Of course you can’t see everything which pollutes water and the problem in our river is E. coli caused by a colony of seagulls.
That still isn’t bad by international standards as this story of from fear to freedom in Cambondia illustrates:
Mong and her husband, Rim, live in a rural Cambodian village in the Kampot Province. As it were for so many Cambodians in the region, their families were forced to the area during the Cambodian genocide of the 1970’s. Not long after becoming teens, the couple met and started a family. Eventually Rim was able to build their home. It sits high up on stilts to avoid flood waters. What he was unable to provide for his family was protection from unsafe water and open defecation. That was until the couple was empowered with something we call WaterCredit.
With a small loan they were able to purchase the necessary materials to build a bathroom and rain catchment system at home.
“Our daughters were always at risk of unwanted attacks at night,” Mong explained as she described life before having a toilet at home, “and, my kids could get bit by snakes when they walked to find water or defecate. It scared them, and me.”
Drawing filtered rainwater from a storage barrel, Mong walked a few feet to fill a kettle on the stove. Smiling as she started cooking, Mong spoke of how proud she is of their daughters. All three went to school and now work in the city. Mong cares for the home while Rim does construction work. Their son is in school.
Now after a day of work and school, the family comes together to eat and rest. The couple no longer feel bound by their constant concern for their children’s’ safety due to a lack of safe water and a private toilet. Their bathroom and water solutions have given them a freedom to focus not on their fears, but on all that is now possible in their lives.
Give water credit for turning a life of fear into a life of freedom.
That’s water is so much cleaner here than there is no excuse for not doing everything possible to right past wrongs, clean up waterways which need it and protect and enhance all where it’s possible.
But it also brings some perspective to the debate which is too often based on ignorance and emotion rather than facts and science.
And let’s not forget that less than optimal water quality is an urban problem too:
A number of beaches on Auckland’s North Shore are expected to be closed on Tuesday due to pollution.
“Raw sewage flowed directly into the water between the red and yellow flags” at Takapuna Beach on Monday afternoon, a spokesperson for Surf Life Saving Northern Region says. . .
Farmers are prosecuted for ponding of effluent that could reach a waterway.
Will any action be taken against the council for sewage that has flowed straight into the water?