While relaxing at a nice resort in Cancun, KC asked me, “Are you going to drink that?” pointing to the cup of tap water placed in front of me. We were having lunch at one of the resort’s restaurants and, without thinking, I ordered a cup of water with my lunch, a habit I started when I began working out and eating healthier. I made the mistake of not thinking about whether the tap water is safe or not to drink before ordering it. Mexico’s tap water is not generally safe to drink; however, a waiter told me, without being asked, that the resort passes the tap water through a reverse osmosis (RO) filter on site for the safety and enjoyment of the guests. Although, he added, guests may request bottled water at no extra cost.
KC’s question caused me to start thinking about water quality in other countries and how I need to remember to pay attention the tap water we drink to keep us from getting sick. I quickly found out that bottled water, outside the resort, is expensive. A half-liter water bottle costs 35 pesos or roughly $2.33USD. Some of that cost has been inflated for tourists, but how by how much? How expensive must it be for families to stay safely hydrated? What percentage of their pay goes to clean water?
Whenever we can on the road trip around the United States, KC and I fill up our water bottles and camelbacks with free tap water, taking the clean tap water for granted sometimes. Even in Mexico, I switched to a water bottle that has a filter incorporated into its design for questionable tap water that my mother-in-law gave me for my last birthday and KC used a camel back with an inline filter, allowing both of us to drink safely from the tap or from water fountains. After seeing the cost of clean bottled water outside the resort, I felt like we had a free pass with the filters; we didn’t need to buy the filtered water.
I wondered about how a community feels after having a clean water system installed where there was none before. How does a family feel when they no longer need to pay for clean water or, if they can’t pay for clean water, how do they feel when they no longer have to worry if the next cup of water will be the one that makes them too sick to go to school or work?
As I sipped my tap water at the resort and pondered all these questions, I was reminded that working on clean water projects is one of the goals for this year. We have seen a lot of family and friends, climbed, hiked, and otherwise enjoyed the American outdoors, and visited many cities; however we have not forgotten one of the other purposes to this trip: to be a force of positive change in the world by working for more access to clean water. In this way, honoring God.