Tuesday, May 04, 2010


As some of you know (and experienced), the Boston area went through a little water supply hiccup over the past few days. On Saturday, a water pipe in Weston broke, so they had to pump in water from surrounding reservoirs. This water wasn't treated enough to ensure that it was safe to drink, so the powers that be asked that people drink boiled or bottled water.

The news media didn't exactly help the situation. You could tell they were salivating at the idea of "breaking news" and scrolling tickers. The word "catastrophic" was thrown about as it were true. A catastrophe is a major American city under water, an earthquake, a town leveled by tornadoes, a coastal community washed away by hurricanes. Rein it in, people, you aren't helping. We still had running water.
Well, you can imagine the chaos that ensued. I happened to be at the grocery store when the city called, so I went to the water aisle to pick up what I could. My main concern was Chingu's formula and food, and since we weren't sure how long we would need to boil the water, I wanted a bunch of packages for him. Needless to say, it was a madhouse. I completely understand that people were in panic mode, and it was easy to see cart loads of water bottles and be struck with the need to fill your own cart. The first day news like this break can be a little crazy. Fine.

But then the stories started pouring in. People waiting in line for hours for free bottled water, college students going days without showers or washing dishes, fights breaking out at Costco. People, YOU COULD HAVE BOILED YOUR WATER AND IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE. I repeat, BOILED WATER WAS FINE. Why did some think it was bottled or nothing? Josh and I used boiled water to drink, to cook, to wash dishes, to bath the baby. We didn't burst into flames. Shocker. I know.

Also, the water from coming from a reservoir in CHESTNUT HILL. Have you been to Chestnut Hill? It's really nice. It's not Cambodia. There isn't an open sewer running into the water. Corpses aren't floating around; industrial plants aren't dumping toxic waste nearby. I promise. The water that we were boiling is probably cleaner than the water about 60% of the global population uses (and that feels generous, it is probably more). I brushed my teeth in an Indian train bathroom and lived to tell the tale, I think I can handle some water from Newton.

The craziness was kind of getting to me, but I can see where people are coming from. Hysteria is contagious and it is easy to get swept up. But then, last night, I just lost it. I has washed the sheets with a load of laundry and threw everything into the dryer. It must have been a bit too much, because one corner of one of the sheets was a little cold when we went to put it on the bed. Well, you would have thought it was the end of the world. Josh had this anguished look on his face. Oh NO! ONE corner of our sheet is SLIGHTLY wet. What EVER will we do? We must immediately throw these sheets our and buy news ones! GAH! Of course, I let poor Josh have it. I was just so fed up with the attitude that had taken over the Boston area. Seeing it in Josh was the last straw.

When did we become such pansies? Every time something like this happens, I think of my visits to India and how boiling drinking water is the norm. So were bucket bathes, stiff clothes that have collected dust while drying in the sun, no dishwashers, no washing machines, and until abut fifteen years ago, no toilets. And my family was relatively well off. The thought that people didn't want to drink boiled water and fought over bottled just floors me. If we didn't have running water, that would have been completely different, especially with a baby. But we did. We had access to as much water as we wanted. We just had to boil it.

The ban was lifted this morning, less than 72 hours after the pipe broke. (A huge thanks to the people who orchestrated the efforts and manually fixed the pipe!) The fact that it was fixed so quickly is another reason we are so lucky to be in such an institutionalized country. I just kept thinking that if this happened in a developing country, that pipe would have waited for all the corrupt contractors, politicians, and unions to figure things out while the population went without running water. While it was unfortunate that this happened in the first place, I feel like it could have been much much worse. A little inconvenience once in a while is good for us; it makes us appreciate what we have when we get it back.


Anonymous Courtney said...

To be fair, regarding the people waiting in line for free water, there are some people who honestly can't boil water because they don't have the resources to do so. That's what the special email regarding the free water was indicating.

As for the not showering, etc., I blame that on media outlets who shared incorrect information. I heard a radio DJ say that yesterday, and instantly, I knew it was incorrect.

True, people acted rashly to an inconvenience, but when original reports said that it could be four to six days, it's no surprise people wanted to stock up on bottled water. Yesterday at work, I certainly couldn't boil water, and I didn't want to spend a fortune buying bottles from a vending machine either.

10:37 AM  
Blogger Deepa said...

point taken.

josh and I talked about the reality that we may run out of bottled, so i told him to save the bottles. i filled empty bottles with boiled water just to save the bottled we had for Rohan.

And the people who couldn't boil water by all means deserved bottled water. That's who it was for. I saw well -dressed moms having the National Guard fill up their Escalade up with racks of bottled water. Why were they not boiling their water? That's what made me upset.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Courtney said...

Oh wow. Yeah, if you're seeing that, completely warranted. Uggh. We did the same thing. We just kept refilling our 2-quart pitchers with boiled water. We did buy some seltzer, too.

The college students who didn't shower, though...they're just dumb. :-)

6:57 PM  
Blogger SR said...

was a good excuse not to shower. what!

11:06 AM  

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