Out on the street, on the pavement at the driveway entrance of my neighbour’s property, water is flowing out unchecked from underneath a municipal water main’s cover. This has continued unabated for weeks. Our precious natural resources flowing down the street– wasted, unharnessed, unused. This particular neighbour and I have been trying to get the matter resolved: endless calls to the Municipality (COJ), some of which have gone unanswered; and most recently my calls and emails to our local Councillor who, with his own particular frustrations in being able to influence the matter, was yet hopeful that it would be resolved by last Friday 02 October. But still nothing. I have posted messages on our street’s Whatsapp neighbourhood group, suggesting that others jump in to call COJ and put pressure on them there. My thinking is that if others get involved, we may have a better chance of expediting a positive result. And in my group message I gently reminded everyone that the problem is for all of us to address—it is a water mains problem that could end up affecting all of us. I’m relying on ‘human nature” to try and spur my neighbours into action: nudging them a little, reminding them that we all may yet be inconvenienced by this thing—what if we find ourselves with a serious drop in water pressure? Or even with no running water as the problem persists? So yes, I’m relying on the fact, the human fact, that we are often spurred into action only when something hits us in the pocket, or we are inconvenienced in some other way. So far, this wily plan has not born much fruit—only one person on the group has responded to say that she will follow up with COJ
On another level, inconvenienced or not, it fills me with dismay to watch this happening. To step outside my driveway daily and see that nothing has changed after weeks, that there is still a dark shining smear in the road, indicating that municipal water continues to seep out and flow down the road. I feel sometimes as if I am watching the earth bleed out. This waste of precious water, in a water scarce country, is just all wrong, and it is a depressing eyesore for me, an assault on the senses, and I start to feel ill if I think about it too much.
Not everybody feels the way that I do about this matter. Other people’s reactions and responses may be different to mine. And these things often depend on context: It just so happens that I am being met daily with the infuriating sight of a massive amount of water being wasted every time I go down to my gate. It is right there in front of me, I see it every time I walk down my driveway. Other people in the street do not get to see this every day. Out of sight, out of mind. It may come to bother them further down the line when and if they find their water pressure is reduced to a trickle as supply is affected. Then they may react. And that’s often the thing isn’t it? That its only at crisis point, when we are personally affected, that we are spurred into action.
I remind myself that I have no right to demand that my neighbours respond as I have. Sometimes the things that get to us as individuals, things that bother us and hurt us, are our own crosses to bear. Maybe my neighbours are busy, and doing good in other ways—volunteering their time or money. I have no way of knowing this; although in fact I do happen to know that many of them are doing excellent work in their own time in our community J. So there you go. Who are we to judge? Until the water disappears completely, that is.
But is my local councillor doing enough to try and resolve the problem? Is he doing what enough of what can reasonably be expected of his official position? I can’t say. But I wouldn’t like to be in his shoes right now with all the current challenges at our local government level. Enough said. Like many places throughout the globe, we have our challenges with our government and other leaders, with leaders failing to inspire confidence, to say the very least. Many of our particular challenges are at local level: deteriorating infrastructure, technicians slow to respond and the frustration of feeling that things are just not being well managed in so many ways.
A lot of people I know are simply tired of trying to be heard on these kinds of critical issues, such as when they can’t even get someone to pick up on the relevant number so that they can log a fault. So even at Step One, there is a feeling of sheer frustration, a sense that ‘nobody cares’ at the other end.
So what more can I do to try and solve this problem? Pray, meditate? Maybe. Just place my head in my hands and visualise the harmony of a new story unfolding—one that brings on a happier ending, where the water starts to flow backward to source, away from the street, peeling the shiny wet layer in reverse, back to where it came from. Will this help? I have no way of knowing. But I may just try it anyway.
But then there is always the more practical approach, which leads me to the point that there is always something to learn from these things, these inconveniences. Sometimes you just have to get practical. Maybe this current issue– our water getting away from us, escaping in a steady stream, can teach us that besides anything else, we simply need to face facts and rise to the challenge. Our precious water supply is not guaranteed. Hence our new 750 Litre rainwater tank which is yet to be plumbed up and faucets attached. This will help to cover some of our basic water needs in times of trouble. Perhaps the real lesson here is that we need to try and harvest every drop of precious moisture that falls from the sky. I for one am all for that.