Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Water, water everywhere

This is more a piece of entertainment than anything else, a bonne-bouche as our allies (mistrusted as was accurately described in Yes, Prime Minister) say over the water.

It seems that the Mairie of Paris, having nothing much on its hands this week, the Olympic inspection team having been and gone, looked at the sad situation of water in the French capital.

Now, the sad situation does not mean that there is no water. Nor does it mean as, alas, it does on this side of the Channel that you have to ask for a glass of water several times in a restaurant or café until the waitperson deigns to hear you.

No, what they are worried about is that Parisians do not like to drink tap water. It is all a question of marketing, huffs and puffs an official. (Speaking from personal and very unpleasant experience, it is a lot more than just a question of marketing, but let us return to our muttons.)

51 per cent of the capital’s inhabitants never drink anything but bottled water, which, incidentally, is considerably cheaper than here. Others will touch what they consider fairly polluted stuff but only if they have to. Presumably, children will drink whatever comes their way.

However, Parisians are not simply tempted by information such as half the capital’s water comes from artesian wells and the other half goes through three separate filters. They might not believe that.

Instead, they are being given glass water carafes with stoppers, designed by Pierre Cardin and carrying the logo Eau de Paris with the Eiffel Tower (connection between the two are unclear).

The 30,000 carafes are carefully designed to be fitted into the refrigerators de luxe once filled with delicious Parisian tap water. The first of these were handed out outside the Hôtel de Ville yesterday to mark World Water Day.

Somehow, one gets the feeling that the day was not supposed to be a fashion statement, bearing in mind that large parts of the world have no proper drinking water anywhere within many miles and bearing in mind, also, that providing clean water throughout Africa is one of the projects the Copenhagen Consensus suggested as being highly valuable as well as cost effective

And talking of efficiency, just how much did this little stunt cost the tax payer and which tax payer is putting up the dosh?

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