Muddy Water: Some Pray for it

By Craig Masters
Water has overwhelmed us here in Northern Colorado. But in only a few days the millions of gallons and tons of mud will be eastbound and down – toward New Orleans and the salty Gulf. While we will soon be recovering and remembering, the muddy water we are so relieved to see run downstream, is a valuable life saver many others pray for daily.

Pray for muddy run-off; who in the world would do that? The answer it seems, is a lot of people just about anywhere in the world.

In order to write an article other than the usual, I was searching the cyberworld for some interesting facts about muddy water and its unhealthy effects when I happened upon much more than I expected. The World Health Organization (WHO) has devoted decades of effort to bring safe water to peopleĀ  who drink muddy water to live. Yet after all those years WHO reports that 1 in 4 children die before the age of 5 from diseases caused by drinking ‘muddy’ water.

These aren’t numbers limited to the most remote areas in “undeveloped” countries. It is reported that just miles south of the U.S. – Mexico border women and girls are too often raped and murdered while walking the miles of round trip distances they must walk every day to carry clean water.

I found dozens of charities that dig shallow, bore hole, wells. But by their very nature of being little more than surface water collection basins, these shallow wells often become contaminated. They are essentially big mud puddles. The people drink muddy water.

More research led to an interesting web site with the address title ‘drinkingmud.’ The site is a simple message about trying to get safe water to people who need it. But in the left hand margin there is a link labeled ‘chemical recovery’ that caught my attention.

That link took me to a crowdfunding site for a system that will remove hazardous chemicals from water. Since many of these chemicals are expensive, the system allows for their recovery without destroying their value by secondary chemical reactions. Whatever that means.

I didn’t really care – until I read a little further down the page and realized the same system would easily produce clean safe drinking water from a mud puddle. That got my attention. More searching around the crowdfunding site using terms like ‘clean water’ and ‘safe water’ led me to several projects trying to raise fairly small amounts of money to get clean water to people literally dying from the lack it. All had one of the usual plans, dig a well or install a big rain barrel or simply ship in bottled water. Ironically nearly every one of these sites had failed to receive donations. Only a couple out of nearly a hundred projects had reached their goal before their 60 days deadline.

That research made me realize why the one system that made some serious sense was listed under chemical recovery instead of safe water. People who have water just seem to take it for granted – that is, until there is way too much to handle.

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