“There is work enough for everyone, if you really want to work,” puffed a young neighbour of mine. I was just entering the Old City when I spotted a younger boy who seemed to be drowning under a packets of bottled water. He placed them on the floor to catch his breath and with sweat pouring he smiled at me. “I agree…and do you need a hand,” I answered. With a grin he said, “I go this far on my own and I’ll finish on my own.” Now that’s the spirit we need. He could have been on the beach moaning that Covid-19 has ruined his chances of finding a seasonal job, whilst begging from his parents, but no he was lugging packets of water in the midday sun.
As a skipped down the stone stairs I couldn’t stop thinking of him and what a great example he is and that someone brought him up to value hard work. And then the water got me thinking. He was carrying bottles of water from France. I remember a long, long time ago when the ill-fated golf project on Srđ was making presentations. One fact stuck in my head.
The City of Dubrovnik is supplied with fresh drinking water by the River Ombla, and on average uses 400 litres of water a second. That might seem a lot. However, the River Ombla actually produces around 4,000 litres of water a second. These figures might have changed due to the new water intake plant, but you get the rough idea. So that means that roughly 90 percent of the water produced at Ombla flows right out into the sea. You can probably see where I’m going with this, just join the dots.
The one overriding thing that this pandemic has shown us is the fragility of our incomes. The tourism industry is like a crystal vase on top of a washing machine in spin cycle. At some point it is going to crash to the floor and be smashed into a thousand pieces. It’s time to break that complete and utter reliance on such a delicate form of revenue. Bottled water!
Rather than letting 3,600 litres fill the Adriatic every second why not take a small proportion of that and bottle it? Half of the infrastructure is already in place. There is a large empty building on site already that could act as a bottling plant. And the City already uses the water as drinking water anyway. Filter it a few more times, pour it into an ecologically friendly bottle (yes, no plastic please) and slap a funky Dubrovnik inspired label on the front and hey presto! If the production and factory where made in the right way, then they themselves would become tourist attractions in the future. I once went on a tour of the Guinness factory in Dublin, so why not a fresh water source in Dubrovnik.
The whole surroundings look impressive enough just to start with, add some creativity and you have a Dubrovnik success story. In an ideal world this project would be funded and run as a public company. Mainly because I hate the idea of privatising water, a natural resource that should be owned by states and not private corporations. However, a better solution would be a private/public project.
Let’s face it the public sector in Croatia doesn’t have a glorious past of successful projects. It would create jobs, bring in a revenue to the city that isn’t connected to tourism, act as a great marketing tool, clean up an area of the city that is in dire need of refreshment, a percentage of the income could be used to fund environmental causes and create a whole range of spin-off ideas. Did you know that Croatia has the fourth most natural water resources in Europe per capita? Only the Scandinavians beat Croatia. And yet the vast majority fills the Adriatic. The term “a drop in the ocean” has never been more relevant.