Thirst Among Equals


As world leaders (except Dubya, of course) are gathering in South Africa for the World Summit on Sustainable Development, one of their prime topics is water. And why not? More than 70 percent of the globe’s surface is water, but only 1 percent is drinkable, and millions are dying of thirst and water pollution every year.

Protecting public water supplies from pollution? Well, that’s not going quite as well as the booming profits of water purveyors. Water is being corporatized, conglomerated, shipped around the world, and marketed heavily to the affluent. We’re being deluged with water, it seems. Manufactured water, that is. Hard to imagine that we’re in the middle of an official “drought emergency” in New York City. But we are.

Now, pick up that elegant bottle of expensive water and tap into these fun facts about your life essence.

Percent of world population that lacks access to safe drinking water: 48

Number of people killed annually by water pollution, poor sanitation, and water shortages: 12,000,000

Percent of Americans who regularly drink bottled water: 54

Average number of liters of bottled water consumed annually by each resident of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut: 57.7

Rank of New York among states in bottled-water consumption as of 1999: 4

Percent of annual estimated growth in bottled-water consumption in the tri-state region for the next two years: 10 to 12

Percent of the 90 billion liters of bottled water drunk each year that are consumed outside their country of origin: 25

Factor by which shares in U.S. water companies have outperformed the overall stock market since September 28, 2001: 3

Cost ratio of bottled water to New York City tap water: 1000 to 1

Percentage of New York City residents concerned about the taste and odor of their tap water—particularly chlorine: 48

Number of times New York City residents are urged to pour tap water from one container to another to remove noticeable chlorine odor: 10

Percent of treated bottled water that is actually municipal water: 25

Percent of the capacity of New York City’s water supply currently in storage: 74.3

Percent below normal water supply: 11.8

Gallons of drinking water provided daily by New York City’s reservoirs: 1,300,000,000

Gallons per day saved through conservation efforts in New York City instituted during the past 10 years: 200,000,000

Number of gallons of municipal water used annually by the average family household in New York City: 100,000

Percent increase in number of samples and analyses made by New York City officials of drinking water since 9-11: 80

Number of water heaters affected by the disintegration of polypropylene, causing whitish material to clog faucets: 16 million

Federal deadline for all of New York City’s water to be filtered: June 29, 1993

Year when New York City agreed, under a consent decree, to open a major water-filtration plant to comply with the deadline: 2007

Year when New York City, under a revised consent decree, is to open a major water-filtration plant: 2010

Concentration of fluoride that has been added to New York City water regularly since 1964: 1 part per million

Percent of Americans concerned about contaminants such as arsenic, lead, pesticides, bacteria, and cysts such as cryptosporidium in their drinking water: 47

Percent of New York City residents concerned about contaminants such as arsenic, lead, pesticides, bacteria, and cysts such as cryptosporidium in their drinking water: 61

Related article:

A World Without Water: Advocates Warn of Thirst and Turmoil for a Parched Planet” by Ginger Adams Otis

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 27, 2002

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