I have been keeping something from you, something that embarrasses and hurts me. It’s time I confess, for two reasons, I have always been honest with you and by not telling you what we have been going through I am withholding information that may help another family.
Life throws many lessons at us and I feel I’m being taught a new lesson. I’ve held myself up to you as someone trying the best I could to be zero waste by reducing my trash to the barest amount possible. I don’t believe recycling is the best use of our resources and even had my recycling down to a minimum. But there is one thing I believed was a bigger waste of resources than any other, single use water bottles.
I grew up in a time where water fountains were every where. No one carried around bottles of water to sip from all day. Why would any one buy water when it was close to free? I did my research and knew the water in the bottles was not some magically perfect water, free from contaminants. The energy and resources that go into producing a single disposable bottle was too high for me to ever see them as a good thing.
I never liked the taste of water from the tap or see the cloudy water. Often the water smelled fishy, a smell I don’t like, but an inexpensive water filter was all I needed to be able to enjoy tap water.
I did begin to carry water around with me. I had, and still have, stainless water bottles for myself and the children because water fountains are pretty much non-existent today.
Things changed for me after I moved. I began to have problems with diarrhea and cramping on a regular basis. I chocked that up to a complication of my disability, a sign that it was getting worse. I’ve also been experiencing what I thought were allergies yet I never had problems with allergies before. I’ve been tired, tired like one gets when they have been sick for a long period of time. Then this summer my two oldest grandchildren stayed with me for an extended period of time and they too began to have problems with craping and diarrhea and began to have the same allergy symptoms of sneezing and constant runny nose.
Once the children had the same symptoms I’d had for almost two years I knew something was wrong. Having already experimented with my own diet and running through all the things that might be causing the allergy symptoms, I began to suspect the water supply and set out to find the reports on our water. I realized I hadn’t received the annual water report in my mail since I’d lived here, something I received like clockwork in the community I had previously lived in for almost 30 years.
I found a water report online, but they have only tested for the standard chemicals and contaminants such as lead, fluoride, chromium 6 etc. Not sure if they would be able to test for specific contaminants from fracking as the fracking industry isn’t exactly forthcoming on the chemicals they use. Anyway, the reports weren’t very helpful to me.
I had to see if I was right about the water.
The first thing I did was to boil pans of water that I would then chill and fill into glass pitchers for us to drink, we were still sick after a week. I then relented and purchased a case of purified water. Our symptoms stopped after a couple of days. We drank the bottled water for three weeks. In this time not one of us experienced cramping or diarrhea after the fourth day and our allergy symptoms too cleared up. We felt good so I purchased a new filter for my gravity fed water filter, thinking maybe there was something wrong with the filter I had, and we went back to using the tap water.
We got sick again. We began to experience cramping and a runny nose by the second day and by the third morning my granddaughter woke with diarrhea. I immediately purchased another case of bottled water. My grandchildren were left in my care, I couldn’t play around, I had to take care of their health.
I am angry. Angry that my water is toxic to our bodies but also angry that my local government allowed me to assume there was nothing wrong with my water. I am angry, no furious, I gave that water to my grandchildren, young children whose bodies are still forming. I’m angry because I was sick for two years. But my anger doesn’t stop there. I’m also angry because I have to support an industry (bottled water) that I despise.
Here’s where I can use your help. There isn’t a place in my area that has filtered water where I can take bottles to have refilled which leaves me with two options treat my own water or continue to purchase bottled water. Purchasing bottled water isn’t a long term option for me. I have been researching water filters, a whole house system isn’t in my budget at this time. I believe the best filter on the market is the Big Berkey but they are expensive. I don’t want to toss out two hundred dollars if the filter isn’t going to be able to treat water tainted by fracking chemicals. Do you live near fracking, or know some one who does? Do you know the best way to treat this water to make it safe to drink? I would appreciate any suggestions you have for me. I’m sorry I kept this from you for so long. I was ashamed that I had been buying water since this summer.