Cleanwater a fundamental human right? Do we deserve it?

Clean Water Drop
“Those who spend their time looking for the faults in others usually make no time to correct their own.” - Art Jonak

Cleanwater? My open water (ocean) swim class was cancelled twice due to an E. coli warning. E. coli? In the ocean? Imagine a thinker’s brow on my face and question marks bouncing in my brain.

The E. coli I know live in the gastrointestinal tract of humans and animals. And I also know that wild berries from the forest can carry E. coli when they come in contact with poo of wild animals (always wash before enjoying). I also know of cases where E. coli is spread by eating contaminated raw spinach or alfalfa sprouts.

But I must admit I never thought about the fact that I could ingest these critters by swimming in ocean water. I mean seriously! When you play the game “Memory” where you have to find two cards that make a pair like “milk” and “cow” would you ever pair “ocean water” and “feces”? It was a very wide fetch for me but it is no longer.

While I’m enjoying my open water swim the ocean water that rinses through my nasal cavity not only contains sea salt but fecal matter. Yikes!

How silly? What was I thinking? In what Utopian bubble was I living? Ducks, fishes, seals and wales have to do their business somewhere. But are they alone to blame for extra high amounts of E. coli in ocean water due to an increased appetite and therefore increased bowel movements in summer months? Hmm? I guess not.

So who is responsible? Let me see? Could it be humans? OMG! Humans! Seriously? Whaaaaat? People dump their s*** into the ocean? (If this article would come in the form of an animated comic, you would see a picture of a light bulb brighten up over my head and loose ends connecting).

I guess it’s no coincidence that there are no public beaches in close proximity of yacht harbors. And it is no coincidence that the E. coli count is usually higher at harbors. Combine that with the hot weather…

In case you wondered, yes harbors have facilities just like campgrounds where you can unload your s*** tank. But apparently it is inconvenient and a little filthy. It’s much easier just to lift the handle like you do when you sit on the loo at home and flush it into the depths of the ocean. It’s a short cut. Eventually that is where it will go anyway, right?

What is the problem here? Everyone highly agrees that cleanwater is a fundamental human right but we are free to pollute it?

Besides my devastating news of high E. coli count we are shocked by lasts weeks environmental disaster that took place in central BC. A dam of a mining pond breached and released 4.5 million cubic meters of silt into nearby creeks, rivers and lakes. We are holding our breath with the residents that await the latest water quality news. We ask questions like why did the dam of the tailings pond break and who must be held accountable. We wonder how the toxic contamination of all rivers and lakes will impact the fishery and grocery produce industries. We worry about the billion gallons of waste sludge flowing downstream.

But we are fine with the little environmental disasters that we personally create every day?

We are furious and become experts when others pollute water but sweep our own mishaps under the carpet.

Keeping cleanwater is not exactly on your priority list when it comes to our own affairs. We turn a blind eye on our own little “mishaps”. Are our own daily personal mishaps summed up together not equally bad? It is easy to point the finger at others but don’t we all live in a glasshouse?

  • Who is responsible for 14 billion pounds of garbage that is dumped into the ocean every year? Top 5 are cigarettes, plastic bags, plastic bottles, food wrappers and bottle caps. (Source: Plastikbank)
  • Who flushes drain cleaner and unused drugs down the toilet?
  • Who washes their vehicles on the driveway and doesn’t prevent oily runoffs from going into a nearby water source?
  • Who doesn’t care what kind of paints, degreasers and household cleaning agents that contain toxic substances are being used in their home?
  • Who is concerned about a healthy looking lawn and overuses pesticides and fertilizers that drip into groundwater?
  • Who throws litter (I see a lot of McDonalds packaging) not in a dustbin but out of the car window?
  • Who lets the shower run 5 minutes before they actually get into the shower?
  • Who buys drinking water in 500 ml plastic water bottles and uses plastic bags every time when they shop?

Don’t get me wrong. Industrial facilities are a huge source of water pollution. And the pollutants are extremely harmful to people, animals and the environment.

  • Over 1 million seabirds and 100,000 sea mammals are killed by pollution every year*
  • Approx. 40% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing or swimming*
  • Pollution is affecting the health of million of people*

But this is partly your own fault. Because we are not taking responsibility for keeping water clean. Where do we think cleanwater comes from? And where do we think dirty water goes? It is not gone, when it’s gone.

Does water have a memory? If yes, what does that mean if we drink a glass of water full of fecal memories?

Water goes from place to place: From ocean to cloud to rainwater to river and so on. Water goes around in a cycle and will come back to us. According to new research from the Aerospace Institute of the University of Stuttgart in Germany, water has a memory. This should scare us. After all 60% of our bodies is made up from water. So what if we enjoy a glass of water full of fecal memories? Do you believe in law of karma, we sow what we reap?

As long as we keep complaining about the mistakes others make and keep ignoring the things we actually do wrong ourselves, an outrage about polluted water seems a little pathetic and fake.

We have to change our perspective about cleanwater.

It’s so convenient and always there. Just turn on the tap and voila, clean water runs down the sink. Do we really know how lucky we are?

Explain running water to a kid who walks 3 miles daily to get to the closest water well. Also try to explain why we waste cleanwater (Ah, it’s because it is free and we simply have lots of it in BC?).

And while we are on it can anyone explain why we appreciate a $ 4.00 plastic bottle of Fiji water that has been shipped half way across the world more than local spring water.

And also explain why we are not forgiving when our vacation destination doesn’t have clean beaches and outstanding cleanwater qualities. Luckily there is tripadvisor where we can write a nasty review about the efforts others take in regards to cleanwater.

Cleanwater is a gift that needs to be treated like a treasure.

Do we only value things when they come with a price tag? Do we have to lose things first until we realize how precious they are? Considering how little we actually do personally for clean water, wouldn’t it just be fair that we give up our right to cleanwater?

Do we really need companies like Nestle and Chairman of the Board, Peter Brabeck to wake us up? At the World Water Forum in 2000, Nestle took a stand for “stopping water from being declared a universal right.” Do you support that? No? Then what are you doing for deserving free cleanwater?

I find it is time to act like grown ups and take responsibility for our actions.

It’s time to stop being ignorant. It’s time to stop thinking that someone else will fix the problem. It’s time that we stop complaining and point fingers at others. It’s time that we clean up our own affairs and contribute to cleanwater.

I’m no saint but was raised by black belt masters in conserving resources. Here are some suggestions that I was taught while growing up:

  1. Conserving water
  • Turn taps off tightly so they do not drip.
  • Use a water flow-reducer attached to the tap, showerhead and toilet flush.
  • Wash dishes not under running water but a partially filled sink.
  • Use the conserving water option on the dishwasher and run it only through when its full loaded.
  • Turn the water off when brushing teeth, washing or shaving.
  • Water your lawn in the morning or evening.
  • Take showers instead of baths.
  1. Reusing water
  • Catch the water you use for rinsing your salad and water other plants with it.
  • Catch rainwater and water your lawn or garden with it.
  1. Reducing waste
  • If you own a boat don’t dump the s*** tank in the ocean.
  • Only use cleaning products that are environmental friendly.
  • Don’t use plastic bags. Bring reusable shopping bags or baskets.
  • Don’t buy plastic bottles. Go for glass bottles or bigger reusable containers.
  • Bring your mug to the coffee shop. Bring your fork for take-out food.
  • Eat smart. How far has your food travelled? Local food usually comes with the lowest environmental impact.
  • Donate unwanted stuff to thrift stores or give it away on craigslist.
  1. Recycling
  • Recycle your garbage.
  • Compost organic waste.
  • Borrow instead of buying.

Plasticbank Free to choose

If you don’t do s***, how do you expect things to change?


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Cleanwater a fundamental human right? Do we deserve it? by
Tanja Knapp
About the Author
Tanja Knapp

Tanja Knapp is an Explorer, Adventurer and Happiness Hunter currently camping in beautiful Vancouver, Canada. Her roots are in Germany where she grew up on a remote farm. A colony of abnormal cells in her cervix taught her the lesson that would change her life forever. Life doesn't get better by chance, it get better by change. She truly believes in creating happiness & health through constant adapting, growing and evolving. Her super power is curiosity. With her blog she likes to inspire others to explore uncharted territory.

If she is not busy writing, running, swimming or cycling, she is expanding her knowledge, exploring the World, and taking on new challenges.

She is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and graduated with an Honors diploma in Holistic Nutrition from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition in 2013. She obtained a Hospitality certification in 1998 and a Marketing Communications diploma in 2004. She has worked both in Europe and North America.


  1. Tanja says

    Hi Tanja. It is so easy to forget the privileges we enjoy daily as we comfortably wade through life being helped by modern commodities. If we all remembered to do little things on a daily basis it would surely be a great gain for the environment. Let’s try to educate our children properly from an early age, and there might be hope for the future.
    Travelling has taught me not to take things like running, clean water, electricity, or ample choice of the most diverse food items for granted. But sometimes we get caught up in our daily routines, and it is great to get a reminder. Thanks.

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