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Dipping in the Ganges

WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 04, 2017

NZ rivers are considered too polluted to swim in. Every day a few million people dip their bodies in the Ganges, considered one of the most polluted waterways in the world. They have been doing it for thousands of years. Yet they survive and get clean. 

The Ganges is not considered unswimmable like NZ rivers, because of possible spoiling in quality from the presence of a farm animal. Granted it is unavoidable that the Ganges be cleaner, but NZ still has some of the cleanest waterways in the world. Let's get things in perspective. 

As usual, science is being stretched for political reasons. There is a difference between drinkable and swimmable. In the old days, farmers used drink water from water tanks fed off the roof. They would have bird poo, opossum excrement, dead rats, rotting vegetation and general mud mixed up. Yes, it could be cleaner, was the attitude, but fine for washing.

The water would be heated and then poured into a small tin bath. This water would then be used for as many as 12 children and adults, one by one taking his turn. Even though each was virtually bathing in the last person's dead skin, dissolved body sweat and accumulated grit, it was still a cleansing experience.

A distinction was made between boiling water from the stream for drinking, and just plain swimming for recreation. It was known for instance, that 100 yards downstream from a rotting carcass, the water was safe again to drink, because when water goes over stones it gets purified. 100 yards from a lump of any excrement would qualify as well. This was in bush survival instructions carried by soldiers to Malaya.

This is not to say that farmers can pollute away to their hearts content. Most farmers are happiest when their rivers and waterways are relatively clean. To keep waterways healthy for irrigation is also in the farmer's interest. Animals that poo close to the water are not harming the water quality. It is the same with urination. Animals are not solely to blame. Who honestly has not pee-ed in a swimming spot? Perhaps we are getting too precious about cleanliness.

I can remember in my youth swimming at St Heliers alongside toilet waste, and it being a bit of a talking point. But we kept on swimming, taking the water into our mouths, but not drinking it. You wouldn't drink seawater anyway. It was obviously perfectly acceptable for the Auckland City Council for years, to let sewage out right in the middle of swimming young families. 

Even boiling the water is a simple process. Left to stand afterwards the gunge at the bottom separates out. Water dissolves dirt, it is well known. The dirt, once dissolved, stays dissolved. It does not jump on to the next body that swims in it. Eco,scinr science will have us believe that the moment you get into the water, the dirt leaves the water and covers your body. It has been waiting for something or someone to latch onto. That is simply not the case. 

It is about time that we ca me to grips with what is real and what is fantasy. Most people do not live in the country, and do not know the ways of country living. They would rather drink heavily filtered water, along polluted and crumbling pipes, and then the chlorine and other chemicals is added to make it taste acceptable. This is considered purified city water, and preferable to the water off the land.

Water is part of agriculture. But so are animals. It is a fact of life that they are inseparable. In an ideal greenies vworld there are no farm animals, there is nothing entering the water from the sides of the river bank, and there is frankly no water. For water in nature is a living thing. It is forever cleansing and renewing, it is the conduit of change.

In India, it is not the cows that you have to watch out for, splashing in the water along with the people. 



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