The loss of water for Blaine residents on Jan. 8 put into perspective how reliant we are on it and how fortunate we are to have it.
There was no water main break, so Blaine was able to quickly supply water with help from Coon Rapids and Spring Lake Park through interconnected water systems set up for emergencies. After the Minnesota Department of Health determined the water was safe, the boil advisory was lifted by 4 p.m. Jan. 9.
Blaine knows a software malfunction led to the temporary loss of water, but exactly why the software malfunctioned is still being investigated.
Water is something most of us, including myself, take for granted. I can’t recall any moment where I have been without water in my home for more than an hour. When I lived in an apartment building, there was an instance or two when the water needed to be shut off for a repair but they did it when most of the residents were gone so the inconvenience was minimal.
Without water we can’t shower, make certain meals on the stove or do the dishes. In the summer, we couldn’t water our lawns and wash our cars.
But of course, the two most important uses of clean water are for consumption and washing our hands.
As a reporter, I have heard many stories from local folks seeking to provide clean drinking water to people all over the world who are not as lucky as us Americans to have it come out of the faucet without any trouble on most days.
The Blaine-Ham Lake Rotary Club has been a partner in the Wakami Village program in Guatemala, which seeks to educate women so they can join the workforce. The program encourages families obtaining the additional income to invest in water filters, stoves, solar energy kits and rainwater harvesting units in order to kill any bacteria that may be found in the water or food sources.
I was inspired in the summer of 2014 when I saw 180 people from Prairie Oak Community Church and Grace Lutheran Church walk 2 miles through Andover, carrying buckets of water. Their goal for this annual fundraiser, then in its fifth year, was to raise money for new wells in African towns so the people do not have to take long treks to natural bodies of water.
Reiser Relief, founded by the late Rev. Bernard Reiser of the Epiphany Catholic Church, has brought fresh water to the poor in Cite Soleil, Haiti, since 2005. The water truck delivers water for free six days on every week of the year.
Gov. Mark Dayton visited Andover High School last October to recognize a group of students who led a community-wide effort to pledge water conservation through The Wyland Foundation. Some tips the students gave was to take shorter showers, do not leave the faucet on when brushing your teeth, water your lawn when the sun is down to limit the amount of water lost through evaporation and re-filling water bottles.
A U.S. Government Accountability Office report released last year revealed that 40 of 50 state water managers, including Minnesota, expect at least some kind of regional water shortage in the state in the next 10 years. The state of Minnesota gets a majority of its water supply from natural underground aquifers. The city of Ramsey has acknowledged that it may someday need to draw water from the Mississippi River as Minneapolis, St. Paul, Columbia Heights and Hilltop do, but the expense of a new water treatment plant should be borne by the region and not one city.
We should all strive to do our part in not taking water for granted and help those who face more challenges than us in getting this precious resource.