Travesty Of Reverse Osmosis

Prologue: It is a difficult job to wring double bed sheets. I learnt it the hard way.

Everyone is becoming more and more conscious about quality of drinking water. We learnt it from our cousins and relatives, visiting India from abroad. They would always ask for bottled drinking water while eating out. I did not like that for two reasons. One, I thought they are showing off. Two, I had to pay for something that was otherwise freely available in a jug. And I am always skeptical about the source of water in the bottle. It can very well be the tap at the back of eatery. 

I have been a vociferous advocate of naturally acquired immunity. ‘Have street food at least once a week to develop resistance to all the disease causing bacteria’ – this is what I told all my friends. Not many were convinced or influenced by my sermon. Those who already enjoyed street food, found an ally in me. The sophisticated and ‘bottled water’ types dismissed me blatantly. 

Then came the age of tribunals and quality checks. Many areas were infested by diseases which were traced to polluted drinking water. Laboratory people found so many elements in the water that they started marking the periodic table. Then they added fertilizers and pesticides to the list. They claimed that the drinking water is giving disease to bones, is causing cancers, resulting in body deformities and can make a person radioactive. When we were kids, the only contamination that happened to drinking water was sewerage contents. Water pipe and sewerage pipes would be laid side by side. At some point, they would leak and contents get mixed up. The end user would keep wondering about the added flavor. 

All such contamination reports shook my faith in ‘develop natural immunity’ theory. That concept was based on bacterial content of water. Chemicals, pesticides and uranium were not factored in. Based on much publicized reports, it was decided to install RO unit at home. Water from RO tasted funny in the beginning, may be we were not used to the taste of chemical free water. 

RO unit was installed over the kitchen sink. One sleek tubing emerged from the unit and was left hanging in the sink. The unit discharged water through it while it filtered and filled the tank with pure water. The discharged water would go down the drain, literally. All were happy appreciating the clarity of the water in the tank. No one was bothered about the water going down the drain. 

One day there was one large container in the sink and the tip of discharge pipe lay in it. Very soon we realized that huge amount of water is being wasted. We were horrified. We all stood around the sink watching the water flow from the discharge tubing. Soon the collective observership gasped – ‘oh my god.’ Whatever amount was being added to the storage tank, almost three times was being wasted. That was colossal, to say the least.  

Having seen so many documentaries on looming water crisis on the planet, we knew we had to do something about it.  Water is the next gold, as James Bond learnt in Quantum of Solace. So we put a bucket next to the sink and put the discharge tube into it. It was full of water sooner than expected. Question was, what do we do with this water. Water plants with it? I had installed drip irrigation system last month only, so that was out. First bucket was used to clean the outer part of the house. Next was used to mop the floor of the house. Before the end of the day, we had another bucket full. That was emptied into the washing machine for clothes. 

Next day I poured two buckets in the washing machine. The machine already had clothes in it and I was happy to be of help in time. I went to my wife to report my feat.

“Did you take out the clothes from the machine?” she asked.

“I will, once they are washed.” I had the sound of an achiever.

“But they are already washed.” She said in the exasperated voice.

Running the machine to drain and dry the clothes would have wasted the precious water.

It contained double bed sheets. 

That is when I learnt for the first time in life, how difficult it is to wring dry bed sheets, single handedly.

Any better ideas to use that water?



Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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