Saturday, May 13, 2006

Where’s the pipe to Africa, Minher?

It takes a certain suspension of common sense to be a greenie. When I hear people whipped up because of a paucity of drinking water in Jordan (Annual average rainfall: 41.2 mm) urging water conservation in Seattle (Annual average rainfall: 920 mm), I ask them where the pipe is. What will conservation of what is impossible to get rid of in, say, all of Canada, going to do for anyone 5 000 kilometers away.

As far as I know, you can’t drink empathy.

In the Netherlands sustainable use of water is obligatory by law. The latest findings and solutions are tried out in new housing development projects. In the centre of the Netherlands, for instance, an ingenious system of ditches, canals and wadis (a retention area for rain water) is used to save the new neighbourhoods from flooding after heavy rainfall, explains Wibo de Graaf of engineering office Grontmij.

"The neighbourhood is set up in such a way that it seeks balance. The wadi, at first sight a low lying patch of grass in the neighbourhood, combines a nice bit of greenery with water management. Previously, all rain water used to go straight into the sewage system. Now the water runs through drains to the grass plot. When it rains heavily the wadi is completely flooded. The water then gradually seeps into the soil and the advantage is that the sewage system can be a lot smaller."
Anyone who has ever wintered in the Netherlands (Annual average rainfall: 797 mm) knows that it rains often enough to make one forget what the sun looks like. All this is about is the desire of a state which likes to think that it can do everything for everyone - to do less, and still say that ‘their shit don’t stink.’

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