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Clean Drinking Water – Do We Value it Enough?

Air Bubbles in water
Blog | 11th June 2024


Before starting this PhD journey as a Hydro Nation scholar, I didn’t think too much about the water that comes out of our taps: cold, clean and convenient. Although I am from Germany, where you pay per unit of water you are using and I was brought up not to waste it, I never really felt an urgent need to save water, either – certainly not since coming to Scotland, where water always seems to be plentiful (and more than that, at times). In short, I, like many others, take healthy, clean, and ample drinking water for granted. But this is certainly not the case for everybody, and being on the Hydro Nation Scholars Programme and working with Scottish Water has also made me realise the enormous machinery behind keeping and making our water safe to drink, and conveying it into our homes. Yet, the effort and costs required for sourcing water from rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and boreholes, bringing it to the treatment works, treating it to the required standard in several steps, and then piping it to individual houses still do not reflect the true value of our drinking water. What is harder to measure in monetary terms, and hence often for us to value, is having a sufficient supply of water in the first place, and having it at a quality that takes treatment to a minimum – not only for our use, but for the environment, too. The landscapes providing our water are precious on so many levels, and we benefit from them in multiple ways. And while it may be harder to enjoy them in times of a pandemic, and the restriction it brings, we are connected to them every time we open the tap for a drink of water. That’s a thought that makes me appreciate how wonderful clean water, and the nature that provides it, truly is.

Carolin Vorstius, University of Dundee