July 2008 | India
Our PBS expedition begins looking at water and its effect on humanity, specifically India. In Montana we take water for granted. It snows in the winter, rains in the spring and our local reservoir in Hyalite Canyon fills up. Open the tap and out comes water. Aside from a faint chlorine smell, it is clean and delicious. When I pay my water bill there are a few tips on how to save water: the resultant costs of leaky faucets and the best time to water the lawn. But past this, I am blissfully ignorant.
In Delhi we are confronted with a different reality. Water is scarce. Vendors sell glasses of water from handcarts. Hotel guests are urged to conserve with shorter showers and to use less linen and towels. The trees and plants – eking out an existence in the concrete reality of one of planet’s largest cities – are parched. The monsoon is on its way north, yet to arrive. For the millions of people in this city water is a very real issue.
As in Montana, the water arrives in the mountains, is stored and then slowly released over time. Reservoirs are predominantly the natural type: glaciers. The ice builds up over time from annual snowfall and then is slowly released over time. For millennium, these have been the source of water. For the past twenty years the high Himalaya has been a place I visited for fun. Climbing and not much else.