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Matter can neither be created nor destroyed. And so it is with water. The water we currently consume has been through the never ending cycle of precipitation (rain, sleet, snow), run-off, passing through a stream or river, perhaps entering an ocean, then evaporation, etc for millennia.

We all need water to survive, although too much can also be fatal. Hyponatremia or over hydration can lead to severe imbalances in electrolytes and may be fatal. Drowning is another hazard. Coming from the driest continent, Australians value their water and most are conditioned to work hard to preserve this resource.

In addition our water resources are especially pure. It is a luxury and a joy to be able to drink water straight from the tap in Canberra – its very cool and tastes wonderful and is free (not withstanding local council rates and charges for water). This is not the case in Dhaka (Bangladesh) where water quality was dubious, and problems such as back flow seriously compromised water quality and safety. Not surprisingly most middle class citizens and expatriates did not drink tap water. So in Dhaka, consumers purchase 25 litre bottles of water from local vendors for around 60 taka (about 75 cents US for 25 litres). No one really knew how safe this water was, and it’s origin was a periodic source of speculation and consternation. Alternatively a bottle on locally produced Mum (the one you can trust) could be bought for around 12 taka for 375 ml (about $0.15 US).

While in New York recently I purchased a 375 ml bottle of water from a street vendor in the Bronx for $1.00 US. Two hundred metres away in Yankee Stadium the very same bottle of water cost $2.84 US (expensive yes, although a can of Coors light was $9.00 US).

Travelling to parched Morocco, a 1.5 litre bottle of water ranged from 6-15 dirhams ($0.75-$1.75 US). In Marrakech at 46C this was a small price to pay. On the street in Spain, a 375ml bottle of water was around €1.60 ($2.00 US). Find a supermarket and a 1.5 litre bottle could be obtained for the same price. But enter a tourist attraction and the price would easily double. In hot and dry Spain, water was an essential companion for the dehydrated traveller.

Arriving in the UK, a 375 ml bottle at a roadside convenience stop on the A-1 was £2.09. That’s equivalent to $3.66 US ….. now that is expensive. Was it good, not especially so!

As I continue my travels I will look further into the cost of water.

The water was not fit to drink. To make it palatable we had to add whisky. By diligent effort I learned to like it.
Winston Churchill

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