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The Wonders of Water

“Water, water, everywhere, and all the boards did shrink; Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”
-The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

It’s a simple three-atom molecule element that covers three-fourths of the earth’s surface at depthsup to 6-1/2 miles deep. It’s what makes the planet look blue from outer space. It is the basic material of life but sometimes takes life, tens of thousands at a time. It dissolves more substances than any other liquid. It is the only substance that exists naturally in three states: solid, liquid, and gaseous. In large quantities, it can be equally beautiful and terrifying. It has literally shaped the course of human events and habitations since all human settlements were chosen for their proximity to it. It plays several prominent roles in the Bible. It’s so abundant most times that we take it for granted and hardly give it a thought. But when we think we’ll be deprived of it, it incites the most basic of primal panics, and for good reason, because without it, we die.
Of course, it’s water.

Have you ever seen the television commercial for some faucet manufacturer where a couple is meeting with an architect to discuss the plans for a new home and the wife shows him a designer faucet and says, “Can you design something around this?” When I think of all the scenes in movies, especially seafaring ones where a lack of water and thirst was a key theme, I consider it a modern miracle that we can walk over to the kitchen sink, turn or pull a knob, and out comes water clean enough to drink.
Think about it. If you go camping or spend extended periods on a boat you can probably relate to what I’m saying. Clean water in those circumstances is a luxury, not to be wasted (notwithstanding the advent of modern onboard water purification systems). But in the home, clean water is so abundant (and relatively cheap) that we even use it to flush the toilet, water the lawn, and wash the car in the driveway.
But water serves us in other ways, too. When warmed it brings relief to aches and pains, and are there many things that feel better than a warm bath or shower? When warmed to the extreme, it can cook food, and even beyond the extreme⎯when it turns to steam⎯can soothe the sinuses.
And at the other end of the spectrum, in its solid form, as ice, it serves even more purposes. Ever since the first time I saw the Tom Hanks movie Castaway, I was intrigued by the scene where he’s in the Fed Ex corporate jet after being rescued. His friend and co-worker on the plane brings him a soft drink and several cups of ice and says something to the effect of, “Here’s your drink, and plenty of ice” to which Hanks replies, “Oh, I like ice”, referring to his total lack of it for the years he spent marooned on the island without it. Would life be nearly as enjoyable for us without the tinkling of cubes in our beverages? No, I don’t think so, not by a long shot.
Over the past two decades or so, bottled water has become a fixture of modern life. Think about all the people you see walking around with their bottles of water nowadays. Such waste! It didn’t use to be that way. I think that’s in large part because, in our now germophobic society, no one wants to use a water fountain anymore.
My one exception is bottled water, which is probably the most unique in the world and with which I had some involvement a number of years back. You see, believe it or not, mostof the water that flows through our world over and over is the same water, just a fraction of the world’s entire quantity. From the clouds to the rain to the rivers, to the reservoirs, to the water pipes, it’s just one huge recycling operation.
But there’s a separation. It all has to do with the temperatures of the deeper ocean waters. As we all learned in grade school, warm rises and cold sinks, and that’s especially true of water, so water in the deep ocean (around 3,000 feet and lower) tends to stay there for perhaps thousands of years, if not forever. Thus, water at that depth is considered “ancient” and unsullied by modern elements and pollutants. Realizing this, scientists wanted access to this primal water for use in experiments of many natures. So, back in the 1970’s a facility was constructed on Kona, Hawaii, chosen because as a volcanic island, the depth plunges to thousands of feet just a small distance from shore. The facility consists of several pipelinesthat plunge to depths ofthousands of feet to pumpup the primal watersof what’s known as theGlobal Conveyor Belt, adeep cold-water oceancurrent that wraps aroundnearly the entire globe. Inaddition to being pure ofpathogens, deep sea wateralso has unique nutrientsand so aside from scientific use, a company wasestablished (Deep SeaWater International, orDSWI) that purified and desalinized it using advanced reverse osmosis then bottled it fordrinking, a product that was marketed as Kona Deep(Visit the website for the complete story).
A note here about my “involvement”with Kona Deepmentioned above.I don’t rememberexactly where Ifirst heard aboutthe product, but itintrigued me greatlyso, I contacted themand ended up getting friendly withthe guy who ran theoperation. He evensent me a few casesand I must admit, there was somethingunique about the“flavor” of this water, or, more precisely, the texture. Thatmay sound hokeybut it WAS differentthan any water I’dever had, bottled or otherwise. At that time the water was distributed throughout the Hawaiian Islands, with a good portion shipped to Japan where pure oceanic “delicacies” are much sought after, along with a willingness to pay a premium, the best example being what the Japanese are willing to pay for certain tunas used in sushi and sashimi. Due to water’s weight and its relative value of it, it costs a lot to transport so the company had not even established distribution on the U.S. west coast since by the time it hit the shelves, it would have to be priced several times that of competing bottled waters.
The fella I’d gotten to know has since moved on and I don’t know the exact status of the company anymore, but the website is still active and if you’re willing to pay the price and contact them, I’m sure they’ll ship you as much as you like.
Lastly, during my “involvement” and as part of my education in higher-end bottled waters, it was suggested I get a copy of the book “Fine Water’s: A Connoisseur’s Guide to The World’s Most Distinctive Bottled Waters” (Michael Mascha, Quirk Books, 2006). The book is fascinating and reads precisely as would a book on fine wines with breakdowns on each water’s “Virginality, Region, Source, Mineralogy, Hardness, Orientation, and Vintage.” I know it may all sound a bit over the top, but I learned a LOT from it.
So, the next time you nonchalantly turn on the tap or flush the commode; draw a bath or shower up; sip hot tea or mix an adult beverage with a splash; water the lawn or wash the car, take a moment to ponder the wonders of water, in all its forms and glorious uses.