While I was fortunate to have been inland and more than 60km away from the Fukushima power plant when it ruptured, on 3 March, 2011, my co-workers and I nevertheless started to get a little anxious when, just a few hours after the initial earthquake hit north-east Japan, our water supply went off.
Heading to the nearest supermarket in search of bottled water, we were met by the sight of hundreds of locals who had had the exact same idea: buy as many provisions as possible and get back indoors. By the time we found a place to park and got into the store, there was barely anything left on the shelves; it had all been snapped up by (understandably) panicked buyers. Deciding to try our luck at the local convenience store, we drove over to 7-Eleven, but found the shelves just as bare.
Although our sitation never got anywhere close to desperate, and our supply came back on about 24 hours later, the thought of not having any clean, safe drinking water really struck home for a while there.
Until it suddenly becomes unavailable, water is something that we all take for granted on a daily basis. Turn the tap and fill up a glass, fill the kettle and make a coffee, jump in the shower, wash your clothes; we use it almost constantly and can’t get by without it.
So it comes as something of a relief to hear that there are clever people out there creating devices that can do something as unfathomable as turn chemical-filled pool water into something that’s safe to drink in an emergency…