Almost exactly six years ago, in the UK, we had a period of severe flooding. This was around the time that I met my wife. In fact, our very first date was postponed as a result of roads being impassible, but that all worked out fine [as manifest by our first wedding anniversary being in a couple of days]. We were lucky, as that was as bad as it got for us. Other people had a much more difficult time.

This started me thinking about water …

During the time of the Great Flood, as I said, I was not badly affected. However, two nearby large towns had a big problem. Even though water was all around the place, drinking water became an issue, as there was a single pumping station that was critical to the supplies in both towns, and that had flooded and shut down. In my local supermarket there were enormous displays of cheap bottled water for people who had lost their mains supply.

Up until that time I commonly drank bottled water – I was a big fan of Badoit. But I suddenly realized how foolish I was spending money of these bottles, when I had very good quality stuff coming out of the tap. I am now amazed at how big the bottled water industry is in this country, bearing in mind that the quality of mains water is so good under normal circumstances.

In now live in Malvern, which is famous for its mineral water – indeed the town found prosperity many years ago when rich folks would visit to “take the waters”. The water is naturally filtered through the rocks of the Malvern Hills, which makes it very pure. Until recently, you could buy it in bottles [I understand that HRH The Queen was a fan], but apparently that became uneconomic, as volumes were too small. [I cannot help feeling that this could be addressed with some good marketing …] At numerous locations around the town are wells, which constantly flow with Malvern water. Some have been polluted, so are not fit to drink, but many are clean and it is common to see people filling bottles. Each summer, there is a “well dressing” festival, when many of the wells are decorated with flowers and artwork and there is judging and prizes.

As I am interested in all things scientific, I am fascinated by the physics and chemistry of water – such a simple substance, yet it has some odd properties. It is the only [common] liquid which is less dense as a solid than as a liquid. If you cool water, it contracts until about 4C, when it starts to expand again. Ice, of course, floats and this fact alone accounts for much of the existence of the ecosphere on this planet. From what I have read recently, there is still much to be learned about the structure of liquid water. I did not know that liquids had a structure. Indeed, they do not. But water does …

Water is good for you. Here are some interesting facts to ponder on:

  • 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated
  • In many people [37%], the thirst mechanism is so weak that it is often mistaken for hunger
  • If you feel hungry and it is not a meal time, try drinking a good glass of water – that can often make the “hunger” pangs go away [I have tried this!]
  • Lack of water slows down the metabolism, causes fatigue, memory and concentration loss and difficulty with basic arithmetic
  • Extra water can help ease back and joint pain and reduce the risk from various common cancers

A glass of water anyone? I have it on good authority that beer is made with water …

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/embedded-software/2013/07/04/water/