Dec 9 2013
The Autobiography of a Glass of Water
I was born, actually formed somewhere over the Western Pacific Ocean. I am told my ancestors did trips through the kidneys of dinosaurs.
After I left the cloud, having been carried eastward, I dropped into the high Sierra range, trickled down a clear mountain stream and was carried along with the snow melt into the San Joaquin River. From there the journey became difficult as I made several trips though the kidneys of animals and humans and wound up in the Sacramento-Joaquin Delta intake where I was literally sucked up, along with many of my cousins, to a higher elevation by gargantuan pumps, pitching and tumbling into the great waterway called the State Water Project.
It was a peaceful trip for hundreds of miles until I found myself flowing into San Vicente Reservoir where I languished for a few days, glad to be not going anywhere for a while. Many of my cousins had said goodbye as we traveled south. I hear they flowed out into parched fields in the Central Valley, were sucked up into cotton fields and traveled world-wide. It was on the internet, so it may not be true. But then I left placid San Vicente and entered a system of pipes that pushed me out into a water treatment plant in San Diego
I can tell you it was not a pleasant experience, what with all of the squeezing through filters and being pushed around by pumps that showed no mercy. I had picked up a few particles that stuck to me until weird chemicals were dumped on me and I escaped through another system of pipes.
Am I ever glad to be sitting here in this nice clean glass, on a fine tablecloth surrounded by exquisite china. But wait – here I go again, headed for someone’s kidneys. It’s disgusting, I am back into a toilet, the toilet flushes and I am in the sewer pipes. Does this never end?
Okay, good I made it through the Point Loma Treatment Plant and am finally back out into the Western Pacific where I met my cousin who had come a different route. She wound up dropping into the Rocky Mountains, and was a bubbling little stream that joined with the siltiest river in North America. It was disgusting she said. She said,” By the time I flowed downriver a few miles I was as dirty as my traveling companions”.
But it got worse. She said she was in and out of several human alimentary canals, dumped back into the Colorado River several times, pushed and squeezed until she too wound up in a San Diego reservoir. She went through a different treatment plant, but here we are again in the Western Pacific.
My dream is to make it past the Rocky Mountains, over to the Mississippi River. I hear it’s slow and peaceful as it flows into nice warm water in the Gulf. I also hear there is talk, if we come this way again, of returning us to the San Vicente Reservoir after we leave Point Loma. I do like it here in San Diego. See you later.
Next time you’re sitting at a table, looking at the clear crystalline glass of water with ice cubes bobbing in it, feeling the wetness of the condensing water on the outside of the glass, consider how the contents got there and where it’s going. It’s all there is, there ain’t no more. Savor it, and hope that the hydrologic cycle keeps bringing more from the Western Pacific to the high Sierras and Rocky Mountains.
Milton N. Burgess, P. E., FASPE
Author of “Water Shock, The Day Southern California Went Dry”