This week I heard someone say they were ‘under the pump.’ Usually it means that a person is experiencing pressure. On this occasion the person was referring to being under the pump at work. It was a very demanding and busy day.
The term under the pump can also mean restraining a person under a pump and let the water pump all over them. In the construction industry ‘under the pump’ refers to a concrete pour. Once the concrete is delivered it must be pumped. Then the workers must work quickly before it sets.
For me this week ‘under the pump’ took on a new meaning. The fire at Pechey, north of Toowoomba, burnt out the powerlines connected to the Cressbrook Dam pump station. Further, this stopped the water being pumped from the dam. The network supplies drinking water for Toowoomba and surrounding towns of Oakey, Jondaryan, Highfields, Crows Nest, Kingsthorpe, Gowrie Junction, Meringandan, Wyreema, Westbrook, Hodgson Vale and Goombungee. Our Mayor Paul Antonio asked residents to limit their water consumption to domestic use only.
There are many people in and around Toowoomba who rely solely on their rainwater tanks for water. With tanks dry and no rain in sight people get desperate, even to the point of stealing water from others. Perhaps as a consequence my One&Only saw a woman at Grand Central shopping centre go into the women’s toilets with two large plastic containers. She was either not prepared to pay for drinking water at Woolies, a few steps away, or was under the pump and could not afford it.
Currently, many Australians are under the pump due to extreme weather conditions: fires; high winds; high temperatures and no rain in sight. We must do all we can individually and as a community to conserve water. At our place we have taken further steps to limit our water consumption inside and save what water we can for our garden.
Access to water and sanitation are recognised as human rights by the United Nations. Without this people are at risk of disease and poor health outcomes. Billions of people outside Australia are affected, and this has a flow on effect to the dignity, prosperity and the realisation of other human rights.
Despite this many adults and children in countries across the world have no clean and safe drinking water or sanitation. I have seen images of children filling water containers with dirty drinking water. Life without clean, running water is unconscionable.
What would it be like if the drought became so bad in Australia, that we had to line up for drinking water? Our current situation gives us all an opportunity to stop, think and imagine what it would be like to be under the pump, under extreme pressure, with no water running our of the tap and none falling from the sky!