When hard water can threaten lives

While hard water is often seen as a serious nuisance here in the UK – affecting the taste of our drinking water, clogging up our kettles with limescale and making us spend more money on washing our clothes – in some parts of the world, it can be a much more dire problem. According to a recent article in Indian newspaper The Hindu, the people of Mamana, a village in Uttar Pradesh, are facing a crisis due to the hardness of the local water available from hand pumps, forcing villagers to travel further afield for water they can use for cooking.

Dal, a lentil-based staple dish in the region, requires water to be at least reasonably soft to cook properly. The water in Manama is so hard that soap won’t lather, drinking glasses develop white stains and dal can’t be cooked at all. That’s not the end of the village’s hard water problems – a local man interviewed by the newspaper said: “Many people here complain of pain in one side of their stomach and it is said that this is because of kidney stones caused by the poor quality of drinking water.”

Only 141 households in Mamana have access to piped water from a nearby village, leaving the rest of the community dependent on a single tap by the side of the road. Breakdowns and the regular summer water shortages can be disastrous. When the piped water does flow, families have to fill up every container they have and hoard it. Efforts to ferry water in by tankers are expensive, and when it does arrive the water is often of substandard quality.

It is most unfortunate that water hardness minerals makes accessing safe drinking water so problematic for these people.

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