It all seemed like a bad dream. Our beloved water supply here in Christchurch is not as pure as we thought it was. Sure we had temporary chlorination back in 2011 after our city got smashed by a massive earthquake. That was understandable considering the hammering our circa-1930 clay pipes got, and raw sewage running rampant in places it should never be seen – which is everywhere.
But since you mention it, it’s actually one more reason we shouldn’t be in the situation we’re currently facing.
The ‘situation’ which you should be aware of–unless you care nothing for Christchurch–is that the Christchurch City Council has voted to temporarily* chlorinate our water supply. I don’t want to resort to any kind of dramatic hyperbole but this, my friends, is how great cities die. Let’s all pause for a minute’s silence as we remember the happy days of great-tasting water, for the dreaded watergeddon is upon us.
Of course, there’s an official investigation into how this happened. Expensive consultants will be paid way too much to do way too little, and will spend their days writing verbose reports that vaguely address non-specific terms of reference and scope, while planning lavish overseas holidays that will see them unable to be contacted after the report is released. Smart.
But that doesn’t help the poor citizens of Christchurch who will soon by dying in droves, not from E. coli, but thirst, as they staunchly refuse to drink anything but pure Christchurch water, collected through natural aquifers that filter down from the pristine snowfields of the Southern Alps and into the gravel layers of the Canterbury plains.
An indication of how mad we all were was the overt outpouring of anger as eight people turned up to protest this travesty against all that’s precious in Christchurch. Before you snort in contempt at our lack of outrage, eight people is 8 more than were actually working to maintain our well heads and prevent this happening in the first place (and 8 more than turned up to celebrate the opening of Christchurch’s new cycle lanes).
But in all seriousness, Christchurch people have had a poor run of things over the last seven years. A whole of lot of ground shaking (which does nothing to improve one’s zen-like state), the stress of messed up roads, EQC shenanigans, bureaucratic bungling stalling any type of inner-city progress, extra fuel taxes, rate increases, stagnant property values, skyrocketing insurance premiums – I could go on but I sense you as the reader are just teetering on the edge of ‘this post started out with a bit of a funny vibe but this is just getting depressing’, so I’ll move on.
So, yeh it hasn’t been all bouncy castles and candy floss the last few years but at least we had the best tap water in the world, right?
So what went wrong? Did we forget what was important? Were we so distracted by potholes we simply forgot to look after our drinking water? Were we so smug in our first world complacence that we just believed our luxurious standard of drinking water would continue indefinitely, of its own accord, the magical elves dusting the wells from time to time to maintain the silky purity of our blessed water reserves.
Possibly, those same elves witnessed our lack of gratitude for the gift of pure, clean water, as we grumbled about broken roads and carelessly rinsed our dustified cars every other day on non-porous surfaces and sold up water rights to wealthy Chinese bottling plants – maybe they just decided enough was enough.
So, we as the previously-ungrateful Cantabrians collectively repent of our wasteful ways and request the elves return to work, banishing the evil E. coli bacterium back to the bar nuts it came from. While you’re at can you vaporise the dirty freedom campers, force Max Key to get a real job and let us skip winter? Yes I know we have no leverage here, partly because we’ve sold most of our water rights to overseas interests, but we know you have a heart and doubt you could live with yourself after 400,000 Cantabrians die from thirst because they refuse to drink chlorinated water.
Or maybe that’s the plan? You just can’t trust Auckland elves.
*The CCC have stated that chlorination of Christchurch’s water will only be for a maximum of 12 months. We shall see.