My interest in water purification began with some rather dire circumstances. I was traveling in Mali and I had just arrived in Timbuktu when I came down with a violent case of amoebic dysentery. If you are unfamiliar with this disease, all I need to mention is that it involves blood exiting your body in the most unfortunate of ways. After living on the toilet for a couple of days, I was finally able to get treatment.
I most likely got the amoeba by drinking water that was not purified or treated. In fact, it was water from the Niger River that had not been boiled fully. This experience got me thinking about water purification, specifically about how fortunate I, and many others in the first world, are for having access to water that is consistently safe to drink.
Fast forward a bit and I am back in the United States where I am staying with a friend. Here, I meet my friend’s uncle who is veritably obsessed with drinking pure water. In fact, he has a few conspiracy theories about fluoride and water contaminants in general. He was the one that introduced me to the find a spring site and he insisted on only drinking water straight from a natural source.
I realized that I had gone from one end of the spectrum to the other. In Mali and elsewhere in West Africa, I was drinking water that at best, was heavily filtered and chlorinated. Spring water? Never touched the stuff. Often I used a SteriPEN to make my water safe for drinking. In Arizona, I was drinking possibly the purest water I had ever had and I realized that there really is something to this whole “water is the nectar of life” thing.
I experienced what it was like to be poisoned by water ridden with parasites and then I experienced what the pinnacle of water could be. I realized water’s ceiling – the point of true purity and freshness. It was the combination of these two experiences that got me thinking more and more about the water that I drink. While I didn’t (and still haven’t) become fanatical about my drinking water, I am conscious of it and I take steps to make sure it is of the highest quality possible. I may not always drink water straight from the spring, but I do make sure that I am consistently filtering and purifying my tap water and I remain extremely grateful that I have access to water that at the minimum, is superficially safe to drink.