All about Water - Week 3

Ever since I can remember, I’ve refused to swim in any water other than a pool. Lakes, oceans, rivers, streams, literally anything. If there was seaweed or animals, I was not swimming in it. Irrational fears stick with you, especially when they make zero sense! Friends would be confused when I would turn down a trip to one of the Great Lakes or a local beach because when you live in Michigan, how are you not visiting a lake in the summer? It didn’t help that, when I was a child, I always believed that all water was deathly dirty because chlorine didn't treat it. I couldn’t believe why people would swim in a lake or river when we had clean, treated swimming water right in our backyards.

It took years for me to realize what real clean water is, and how fortunate Michigan residents are. We have five substantial freshwater lakes surrounding the state, but big business will run them into the ground. The specific example I’m referring to is Nestle receiving the “OK” to pump 576,000 gallons of water out of the Great Lakes Basin(which almost doubles the amount of water they were agreed to in 2016) each day to BOTTLE FREE WATER. The Great Lakes are already in danger of invasive species, algal blooms, pollution, and water levels. Pumping over 500K gallons of water out every single day might not be helping(in any damn way). 

"We can use our platforms to both fund and help people in need speak for what they support and need."

I look at this problem from home, and it always brings me back to the California drought. People would get 2,500-gallon tanks full of fresh water for their homes because freshwater was so inaccessible and expensive. That is the most direct correlation to Tanzania that I have noticed, or can even explain to Y'all. Although this is the most direct correlation, the need for thousands of gallons of water in a tank is for different reasons. California experienced a shortage of water because of a natural cause, which propelled people to purchase thousand-gallon water tanks. Tanzania has limited access to clean water and improved sanitation, which is why people(who can afford it) have 2,500-gallon water tanks from water processing plants.

Hydration, sanitation, food production, and so much more are linked to clean water.

As a tourist, I was recommended to strictly buy bottled water or boil all of my water for at least one minute.

 

The MSU Travel Clinic, other students, and of course Dr. Google stressed the importance of not ingesting shower water. There are so many water ingestion warnings for foreigners, but I continue to wonder what they are for the actual citizens of mainland Tanzania and its islands. Many people do not have time or resources to create or buy clean water, so how do Tanzanians deal with this?

 

In 2014, only half of Tanzania’s population had access to an improved water source. In recent years Tanzania’s government has agreed to advance its sanitation and water quality through working with NGOs(non-governmental organizations) and more. While they have been successful in improving, so much more could be done and will be done. 

During my time in Tanzania, I have experienced giardia from unclean water sources or through vegetables/fruit being "cleaned" with unboiled water. While it’s unpleasant for me, I couldn’t imagine living here full time and not having constant access to clean water. 

All this also brings me back to my fear of swimming in open water. Being here made me curious about waste management in Zanzibar because we are sitting in the Indian Ocean. The fact that the island pumps mass amounts (over 500,000 gallons) of sewage into the Indian Ocean every day confirms my suspicions. While larger hotels and businesses have waste treatment processes, the wastewater from most places pumps out into the sea. ​

And, here I am, back to the Great Lakes, Michigan, America, and our privilege. While America struggles with water distribution: Southwest US, Flint, and Puerto Rico, as a whole, we still have access to more clean water than many other nations.

 

We are fortunate to have access to these things, but we cannot minimize our problems because they are not as widespread as others. 

 

There are so many things we can do to help the water crisis in America, and overseas.

 

Not only will donating to well-run organizations help but so will speaking up. We have the power to speak about what we believe in freedom, which is not the case in many countries.

 

We can use our platforms to both fund and help people in need speak for what they support and need.


This platform that I have with GAEA is why I believe so profoundly in the future of this nonprofit. Kurt and Tamlyn are giving me the power to use my voice for what I believe. This is the future of changing the world, and I’m very thankful to be able to contribute. 

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