When they think of plumbing, most people prefer to think of something else! It’s associated with nasty stuff, after all.
At Dutton Plumbing, we don’t think that way. We hold our heads up high knowing that one of the fundamental marks of higher civilization is the ability to provide fresh water and dispose of polluted wastewater from homes and buildings. That’s what plumbing is all about, and we all need to thank our lucky stars that we live in a country where almost all citizens have access to fresh drinking water and basic sanitation.
That’s not true for the entire world. According to the United Nations, 750 million people – two and a half times the population of the United States – are without access to clean drinking water. Every 20 seconds a child somewhere in the world dies as a result of diarrhea caused by a lack of sanitary conditions. Altogether some 3.1 million people die each year from water-borne diseases related to poor sanitation, most of them children under five years old. The UN estimates that half of the world’s population in 2030 will live in areas with limited access to clean drinking water.
That’s because, at a global level, approximately 70% of freshwater resources are consumed by agriculture and 20% by industry, leaving only 10% to provide for the potable water needs of humans. Our fresh water supplies are under increasing pressure from population growth. Periodic regional droughts, as we here in California are all too familiar with, multiply that pressure enormously.
The United Nations declared 2005-2015 the International Decade for Action “Water for Life,” setting a world agenda that focuses increased attention on water-related issues. A group called the World Plumbing Council has set aside March 11 each year as “World Plumbing Day,” inviting all interested parties to draw attention to our global water crisis and solutions. Visit www.worldplumbingday.org for more information.
As for us, we use March 11 as a time to reflect on the fact that what we do for a living is about more than making money. On March 11 we will remind ourselves that it’s our job to protect the health and safety of the people living in the communities we serve. We must dedicate ourselves to being ever vigilant about threats to their health and safety and to keep up with the technologies and techniques required to safeguard them.
Okay, maybe we’ll use the date to also pat ourselves on the back just a little. In that vein, I will close with a statement written by a great medical researcher, the late Dr. Lewis Thomas, in the Spring 1984 edition of Foreign Affairs magazine.
“There is no question that our health has improved spectacularly in the past century. One thing seems certain: It did not happen because of medicine, or medical science, or even the presence of doctors.
“Much of the credit should go to the plumbers and engineers of the Western world. The contamination of drinking water by human feces was at one time the greatest cause of human disease and death for us; it remains so, along with starvation and malaria, for the Third World. Typhoid fever, cholera, and dysentery were the chief threats to survival in the early years of the 19th century in New York City, and when the plumbers and sanitary engineers had done their work in the construction of our cities, these diseases began to vanish. Today, cholera is unheard of in this country, but it would surely reappear if we went back to the old-fashioned ways of finding water to drink.”