Friday, July 01, 2011

Some thoughts on "lower half of body found in Bedok Reservoir"

Here is a follow-up to the article "Lower half of body found in Bedok Reservoir" in Straits Times on 21 Jun 2011 to tie up some loose ends.

No disrespect is meant by any of the comments here to the deceased and members of his family.

Being found decomposing in a reservoir, the body is bound to gather questions from the public about its effects on the reservoir's water quality and ultimately, the quality of the tap water. Since most of us live in a highly urbanised society, we tend to forget that we are still very much part of the web of life. Life and death go on continuously in the web of life, regardless of our humanly desires, emotions or concepts e.g. justice.

Chemically speaking, we are simply bundles of water, fats, proteins and minerals, similar to many animals. A reservoir, whether artificial or natural, provides for a diversity of life - an ecology unto itself. When a living thing dies in it or a human body somehow ends up in it, it will be decomposed by the same microbes and converted into the same end products e.g. carbon dioxide. (Strictly speaking though, the exact environmental conditions e.g. presence of air, determine the type of end products produced.) No, my friends, we are not so different from other living beings.

Of course, some  may point out the possibility of the presence of pathogens (water borne diseases) in the waters of Bedok Reservoir due to the body. In most cases where such diseases became epidemic (floods, earthquakes), the water body has been contaminated by an overwhelming number of dead bodies or excessive dose of human waste. A single body in a normal reservoir will not likely give rise to a concentration of pathogens of concern.

Lastly, our reservoir water goes through water treatment (Bedok Waterworks) before ending up in your tap. Singapore's water treatment process is adequate to remove harmful substances, including pathogens, under normal conditions.

So drink well...

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