Book Review: Drinking Water: A History by James Salzman

Read or listen to this book. It’s worth your time. The book goes over the importance of water, history and myths, current trends concerning bottled water, political and humanitarian issues with water, terror towards water sources, ponders if water should be free or should we pay more of it, and can it be privately owned. The book is informative which made me go over what I think and know about water (+ its health benefits.)

Here are my complaints and then we can move on to the juicy stuff, the water. When you combine a book with this many points, you can’t deepen too long for any subjects. Not when the book is relatively short. I know this book is meant to peek my interest still I wished there would have been enough space for myths, history, and legends and on the humanitarian issues.

Another complaint I have is the defense for higher water prices. The argument and its justification were too short and hasty. I wasn’t convinced with the generalization from a few examples and with a lack of study to back the claim. I’m not saying the writer is wrong. I’m saying the argumentation wasn’t enough.

Rest of the review is my rambling, feel free to skip this. First, the book spent most of the time talking about bottled water and pointing out what bottlers claim about its health benefits and what issues evolve around bottled water. Basically, bottled water is a waste of money and can be even more dangerous than tap water. No revelations there. But it made me wonder has the trend of water’s healthiness passed. Nowadays more flavored water with added minerals and vitamins, calming to aid skin health, muscles recovery or being against of cold are sold and bought. Clearly, health claims are not enough when people are used to drinking sodas, juices, and everything else but water. (Eroding their teeth at the same time. Yay.) It is worrisome how our chemically cleansed recycled water gets second to everything else. Our civilizations wouldn’t be where they are now without it. The cities’ and population sizes would be a lot smaller due to diseases and other nasty issues. We should praise basic tap water higher we do now. But I guess we only appreciate when it’s gone.

Should water be free and shared commodity? There are costs to maintain and clean our water system, so yes we all need to chip in. We need to keep the system working so there won’t be epidemics and deaths. But what about the water itself, the source? I don’t think any individual or corporation should own it. I think a corporation can buy rights from the local community around the water source to pump and use it (although it is useless when there is a working water system.) However, they can’t restrict the locals’ access to it nor control the water any other way. I think we go to dangerous grounds if we give private ownership to water sources as with control comes power and with power comes discrimination and preferences and then we are on the shaky ground. Water is our basic need, and it should be accessible to all. This isn’t the case. We see global ramifications from the lack of fresh water, and it will continue to cause duress. One or two investors have said the best place to invest your money is water and I have to agree. It might be a way to secure one’s future how awful that might sound.

Okay, this review took a darker turn. I’m sorry about that. Read the book and make up your own mind and ignore me and my thoughts of doom if you want.

Thank you for reading!

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