Even more than air, water can unite – or divide us. We are reminded of its potential for division by the word “rival,” which comes from “riverain”: the resident of a riverside. The fountain is an example of water that unites, bringing people together around its flowing streams. But bodies of water also divide country from country – and, increasingly, country from city. Because having adequate drinking water in our cities often means diverting water from the country – water that is needed for producing our food.
Water also nourishes our dreams and reflections. But is that true of factory-treated water? Perhaps we should call the latter “H2O”, as Ivan Illich has suggested, to distinguish it from the pure water flowing from springs and waterfalls – water that enchants, cleanses, and nurtures our dreams.