Water – Wiser

By: Melissa Baird

I met the Japanese author and researcher; a natural “scientist” Dr Maseru Emoto in 2008, the same year I launched Life in Balance , South Africa’s first conscious-consumer, lifestyle publication. His research in to the power of thought and its impact on water was astounding and prompted me to conduct an experiment that has since then been repeated many times by curious people. Back then I worked as the managing editor for a golf publication. Life in Balance was produced out that office as well and I had a tough time with the paradox that Life in Balance’s first issue was themed “Water” whilst golf courses were famed for their wanton use of it and the golf journalists for their disdain for environmentalists. I was keen to prove something to them. Would this experiment ‘prove’ that water had consciousness and what would that mean for us (as humans) who are -at varying points of our- lives over 70% water?

The method was (and is) simple; take two glass jars, fill each with the same quantity of purified water, add a small quantity of uncooked rice (equal to both jars), label one jar “love” and one “hate”. Put the ‘hate’ jar away from human contact and the ‘love’ jar preferably where you can constantly project affirmative words towards it. Weeks later compare the two. Despite persistent efforts from the golf journalists and publisher (who would randomly walk in to my office and swear profusely at the jar labelled ‘love’) – the experiment proved that the water that was loved didn’t fester – whilst the water in the jar labelled ‘hate’ became fetid and dark.

In the same year Dr Anthony Turton – a scientist and water expert at the CSIR was fired for his report Three Strategic Water Quality Challenges that Decision-Makers Need to Know About and How the CSIR Should Respond CSIR Report No. CSIR/NRE/WR/EXP/2008/0160

It is a fascinating report and in it he outlined three drivers that would impact the country’s ability to develop sustainably (and avoid social collapse). These are: Climate change, Dilution Capacity and Spatial DevelopmentAdd to these the complex historical landscape of South Africa and how access to water was founded on a political agenda, not one based on equal social development, and one can see why he was silenced.

Since then I have had the privilege of learning from and working with Dr Turton. As a result, I understand the fact that water (as much as it responds to conscious thought) is a renewable resource and our future water security will depend largely on the technology that can recycle waste water. Implementing the technology and renovating the waste water treatment plants will require huge political will, investment and a massive shift in thinking to accept that recycled water is the water of the future.  Whilst the politicians obfuscate and deliberate we can at least begin developing our water wisdom and make different choices that are for the love of water, not for its waste.

Have you considered the water footprint of the products you buy and their impact on waste water once used? I wonder how the consumer landscape would change if water intensive products were costed as such; what would a hamburger, beer, soft drink or diamond cost if that was a factor? During this terrible drought (a result of low rainfall, mismanagement and utter lack of knowledge of the hydrological cycle) we are all being encouraged to save water, use less and make use of grey water to keep our gardens alive. But what is grey water made of? The stuff you clean your home, body and clothes with.  Generally, products laden with phthalates, petrochemical derivatives and non-biodegradable entities that once in the water system – stay there.

Consumers need to assimilate into their buying decisions the impact of a product on the water cycle, its water footprint and whether it leaves the water system healthier or not.  Remember the origins of life on this planet, it all emerged from the watery depths. The sea holds great treasure and is also being destroyed by untreated sewerage effluent, single use plastic pollution and unsustainable fishing practises. We live in a closed biosphere and all the water on the planet now is as it was at the time of the dinosaurs. Water constantly regenerates itself if allowed to follow its natural course through wetlands before re-entering the sea or rivers; essential filtration processes that ensure its regeneration and constant ability to be -used. But what is happening now is the pollution of the water sources is reaching a point where it will not be able to be regenerated without highly advanced technology that can return it to usable condition.

This is what Dr Turton meant by ‘Dilution capacity” and it is something we all need to be aware of because what goes in to the sewage systems and what goes into the grey water is a direct result of what we put in to it.  Have you read the labels and are you clear about what the ingredients do to water and therefore to you? I stopped using commercially produced cleaning products over seven years ago as I became aware of the poisons that were used in many of them. I remember picking up a bottle of famous dishwashing liquid and reading the label through a haze of green fluid: Contains “Amongst other things anionic detergents, solubilisers, colourants and perfume”. There was not clarity on what those “other things” may be but I thought of 20million households using this in varying quantities and what that collective impact is on the water treatment plants that are unable to recycle water as it can be in to a regenerative and re-usable resource.

Check the products that you use are not harmful to this our most precious resource and to you.

” South Africa has lost its dilution capacity, so all pollutants and effluent streams will increasingly need to be treated to ever higher standards before being discharged into communal waters or deposited in landfills.”

Dr Anthony Turton – CSIR report

This article is published in Plaastoe – South Africa’s leading agricultural and lifestyle publication.