I’ll be the first to tell you: I’m a water snob.
You would be, too, if you grew up drinking pure groundwater preserved in sediment rock. This isn’t Evian, which, frankly has a stale finish. I’m not talking about Fiji and that bottled brand’s clean but flat taste. The water that nourished me for 18 years tasted like underground, undiscovered Eden. You couldn’t bottle that sweet, dewy, unmistakably fresh water. I knew what pristine tasted like and as long as I could get it, I would have it.
When I moved back to live in Athens, Georgia, about a 20-minute drive from the homestead, I insisted on getting that water again.
Beginning in earnest last year, I made weekly trips to my parents’ home under the auspices of a visit. But with 20 empty glass bottles clinking together in bags on my shoulders, I couldn’t hide the fact that my appearance was partially prompted by a low water supply.
So my parents smiled at my hardheadedness and we joked about my “water problem” and I happily quenched my thirst during the week with the water I’d grown up with. Given the extra effort to get this water, I didn’t necessarily take it for granted. I also didn’t think the water could possibly change. I was pessimistic enough to think that what is happening in Australia would probably happen in due time to the southeastern United States. But even that bad-case scenario was years off.
Or so I thought.
A little over one week before Christmas Day, the well pump at my parents’ home clogged up with years of soil minerals and sputtered to a stop. The next day two well repairmen maneuvered heavy equipment over to the simple well pump structure. They tore up the old pipe, replaced the filter, and then dumped Clorox into the water supply to (ironically) prevent contamination.
As Clorox settled around unseen, unproven germs in the well, the purebred water taste dissipated. On my last visit to my parents’ home, I used, with some hesitation, a faucet filter, as I filled up a glass. The water tasted okay. Still disbelieving that our well water was changed, I dumped out the glass, switched off the filter, and filled up another glass. I held the water up to my nose. I could smell the bleach.
The well repair workers assured my mother and father that the chemical taste would go away in two weeks. Almost four weeks have passed since the repair.
The whole experience was a reminder: Do not take for granted the access to clean water.