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British Expat Newsletter:
11 January 2006

Hello, and welcome to those who have joined up since our last newsletter.

In this issue

  • This week: Water
  • Virtual Snacks
  • Bizarre Searches
  • Quotation and joke

This week

The subject of water came up quite a lot this week. Dave and I were without water for about 24 hours. Apparently the company had cut off the supply because they needed to carry out some kind of major repairs at the water works.

Now, this was no big deal for 24 hours. Our drinking water comes in big 15-litre bottles, and we had about one-and-a-half of those: one on the cooler placed handily for when we’re sitting at our computers, one downstairs for filling the kettle or the ice-cube maker. So we were OK for those rare occasions when we’d rather drink water or tea than beer – of which we’ve always got plenty, of course. And although we’d normally wash salads or boil tatties using tap water rather than drinking water, we could always improvise. (I’ve never had much time for those people who insist that just because you’re not living in the UK, anything which you’d normally just use tap water for has to be soaked in Milton fluid or boiled to death.)

So it was a bit of an inconvenience rather than a major problem. The compound management soon trucked some water in for us, and the mains supply was restored not too much later.

I mentioned it on the BE forum in passing as much as anything else. Almost straight away there was a flood (pardon the pun) of postings with people mentioning their experiences of similar troubles – from Europe as well as hotter countries. One of our longest-standing forum members reports having only one litre of water a day to wash in for the last year he spent in Botswana.

Water shortages are likely to become more and more common worldwide. There are several causes – chief of which is probably increased demand from industry and agriculture as economies become more and more developed. Irrigation reduces once-mighty rivers to trickles during the dry season. Bangladesh, possibly one of the wettest countries in the world, has been at loggerheads for decades with neighbouring India over fair sharing of the waters of the Ganges. Much of the flow is diverted to agriculture upstream, leaving much of the Ganges delta prone to encroachment by seawater. And as economies develop, so do societies’ lifestyle expectations. Washing machines, swimming pools and dishwashers all add to the burden placed on the increasingly scarce water supplies. So do hotels. A friend of ours told us recently that a Brussels hotel he’d managed planned water consumption on the basis of 150 litres – 33 gallons – a day for each guest!

But even areas of the perennially damp UK are suffering, despite efforts to reduce industrial and domestic water consumption. So increased demand isn’t the only cause. The evidence seems to be pointing to climate change as a further major factor.

How can you deal with it? Digging wells and bore holes is all very well, but if no rain is falling then sooner or later they’ll dry up. As the water’s drained, the stability of the land is eventually altered, with eventual desertification as a consequence. And not everywhere is suitable for digging wells – again in Bangladesh, there was a major uproar when it was discovered that a whole swathe of new tubewells dug across the country had been responsible for causing arsenic poisoning on a massive scale.

Tanks (in the sub-continental sense of a man-made pool) and ponds need to be replenished by rain in the same way as ground water supplies do, and are even more vulnerable to failing rains. Some bright sparks have suggested dragging icebergs from the Poles to areas short of water, but the feasibility doesn’t look good. Desalination and recycling water may be the only long-term solution – but an expensive one.

The implications of major regional or even worldwide shortages of water are terrifying, with some pundits predicting civil unrest and even wars over water supplies. Small wonder that the UN General Assembly has declared 2006 the International Year of Deserts and Desertification.

Do you have anything to say about this topic, or do you have some suggestions for other issues we might discuss in our weekly email? Why not comment and tell us about it?

Virtual Snacks

As we’ve mentioned above, 2006 is the UN International Year of Deserts and Desertification. You can read more about the Year’s events, and about water-related UN activities generally, at the UNESCO website.

Water Aid, an international NGO, has an interesting website with lots of information about water, sanitation, and hygiene: “The simple act of washing hands with soap and water can reduce diarrhoeal diseases by over 40%, and it is lessons like these which can greatly improve people’s health.”
Water Aid

Bizarre Searches

Some strange search terms which have led people to visit British Expat recently:

  • what is sceptecemia [A disease affecting people’s ability to spell, apparently.]
  • penis society life
  • message for chinese whisper game
  • problems with terracotta pots
  • parts of penis in english
  • rennie garden gate
  • crocodile sexual organs
  • wank mountain
  • dilbert yoda lessons
  • british castle sex
  • your fingerprints have touched my heart
  • www.how to mack paper plane

Till next time…
Happy surfing!

Kay
Editor
British Expat Magazine

Quotation

“In order for something to become clean, something else must become dirty.”
– Imbesi’s Conservation of Filth Law

Joke

A plumber goes to a lawyer’s house to unblock a sink. After he’s finished he says to the lawyer, “That will be £200, please.”

The lawyer blows his top. “What do you mean, £200? You were only here 20 minutes. That’s ridiculous!”

The plumber nods: “I thought the same when I was a lawyer.”

PG Author: Kay McMahon

Kay has been an expat for nearly 30 years. She set up the British Expat website back in early 2000, whilst living in London and missing the expat life. These days she spends much of her time lugging computers and cameras around the world. (Dave gets to deal with all the really heavy stuff.)

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