What happens when a city issues a warning that its tap water is no longer safe for drinking? People run out and buy bottled water. And what happens when that city has a population of 2.2 millions? Two millions run out and buy water (the rest were drunk or too lazy).

According to my sources, the advisory was made public some time this morning or early this afternoon. By 10:00 pm tonight, major grocery stores like Safeway were completely out of any possible kind of bottled water, fancy mineral and glass bottles included. I hadn’t seen an entire aisle of empty shelves since the aftermaths of hurricane Ivan in Grand Cayman. It was almost scary. But funny too. Bis repetita placent.

I guess that, since there is no reason for the store I visited to be in any way special, it is then safe to assume that almost every other store in the greater Vancouver might also have ran out of water. Now that’s a little scarier.

What happens next? Store managers must have spent their entire day on the phone placing orders. Bottled water companies will be rejoicing and preparing to cash in. Water will eventually have to be brought in from further away. Prices will go up. We’ll end up paying. We always do.

The big question mark is now one of duration. The forecast isn’t pretty and since rain is responsible for the crisis, there is no obvious short term solution. The city reports that it is currently discharging water from the Capilano and Seymour reservoirs, in an attempt to get rid of turbid water and in hope that the following inflows will be cleaner. Why would they be, though, if it keeps raining? And these are rather… hmm, large, reservoirs, to say the least.

So for the time being, it’s back to the good old days of boiling water, rationing, and brushing my teeth with soy milk or white wine… ;-)