Today the water ‘problem’ in Preston has come to a close. Last week, the water straight from the tap became drinkable again, but today a letter dropped onto my doormat from United Utilities with a compensation cheque in it.
I want to stick my oar in and let you know my thoughts…
A bit of background – about a month ago traces of a parasite called cryptosporidium were found in the United Utilities water treatment works just outside Preston. The water from here goes to most of the city and the surrounding area. The parasite can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.
Now, a little perspective – we have water that comes out of a tap. This water is clear, clean, and readily available. Diarrhoea, in this country, usually means a couple of days off work/school, with the inconvenience of having to run to the bathroom a few times an hour. You can visit your GP about it. It’s not life threatening. It’s easily treatable. You get back to normal life within days, and incur no real cost for it.
“Diarrhoea occurs world-wide and causes 4% of all deaths and 5% of health loss to disability. It is most commonly caused by gastrointestinal infections which kill around 2.2 million people globally each year, mostly children in developing countries.” – WHO
In the world, 4% of all deaths are caused by this. Diarrhoea. An easily treatable health problem to those in a country where healthcare is free and clean water is in almost every home.
“85% of the world population lives in the driest half of the planet. 783 million people do not have access to clean water and almost 2.5 billion do not have access to adequate sanitation. 6 to 8 million people die annually from the consequences of disasters and water-related diseases.” – UN
Find out more here – Water.org – One Billion Affected
My point is, everyone has been up in arms about this water ‘problem’ this last month and we seriously need to get a grip! We are incredibly lucky to live in a country where the worst that happens is you lie in bed for a day or two.
I’m glad that in United Utilities accompanying letter to the household’s affected included this in their Questions & Answers –
Q. Can my compensation be paid to a charity?
A. Thank you for your generous thought. We have issued the cheque in the account holder’s name. Please cash the cheque and donate to a charity of your choice.
I sincerely hope this will spark the thought in people and make them think about people in the world who aren’t as fortunate as we are living in this country.
When did we become so self-centred? When did we become so quick to jump on our ‘entitlement to compensation’ that United Utilities couldn’t just sign the £15 million cheque over to a charity helping combat water sanitation in a country that needs it? Help the 650 million people in the world who live without safe water?
I’m horrified that there are MPs and members of the public who think that this compensation isn’t enough. Conservative MP for Fylde Mark Menzies said the size of the payment was a “disgrace” and “woefully inadequate”. “I think the figure of £50 or £60… in no way reflects the inconvenience people have been put through over the last month without drinking water,”
But it’s exactly that – an inconvenience.
Seriously, reality check it needed.
Is it an inconvenience that a single parent who provides for their children alone would die and no longer be able to look after their children because of a bout of diarrhoea that they got from drinking unclean water killed them, because they couldn’t get better due to only having access to unclean water and no medicine? Is that an inconvenience? NO! That’s a serious problem.
Stop living so “our-world” minded that you forget about how good you have it. Be thankful that you got any compensation at all because if it were down to me – you wouldn’t have seen a penny and it would have gone somewhere helpful. If you want to complain that United Utilities are making lots of profit and don’t do anything with that, complain about that, don’t complain about ‘poor compensation’.
But maybe have a look at Water Aid’s website.