So I watched Kingdom of Heaven the other day (please don't hijack this into a discussion of that movie), and there's a sequence in which the Christian army, cut off from water supplies, basically falls apart due to heat exhaustion and dehydration, and is eventually cut down by the Muslim armies under Saladin.

So this got me to thinking; how important is water to the armies of the Imperium, particularly the Imperial Guard? Clearly, every human needs water in some form or another to survive. Sure, the Cadians and Catachans have canteens modelled onto their bat utility belts, but surely one canteen isn't enough to sustain a soldier for any protracted length of time. Assume for the sake of argument that a soldier needs one canteen a day. Multiply that by the number of guardsmen in an average IG army (which is only a fraction of what makes up an army in the fluff, if it is to be believed). Then multiply that by the thousands (if not millions) of armies fighting on thousands (if not millions) of worlds. Then take into consideration the Imperial Navy. The Inquisition and its many branches. Even the Adeptus Astartes need water. And the myriad of other human personnel, military or not. Oh, and the billions upon billions of civilians.

That's a lot of water.

I would think that a large amount of resources would be dedicated to water and the distribution thereof. I'm picturing massive spacecraft dedicated purely to water, harvesting it from water-rich planets and then transporting them to the troops and civilian population. I would assume that the various enemies of the Imperium would recognise this as a weakness, and that military security around water would be pretty tight indeed.

Then the relative rarity of water in the galaxy must be taken into consideration. How many planets have water? I would assume that every newly discovered world which has water on it is immediately designated for water harvesting. Perhaps the Imperium has a way of synthesizing water. But then again, most Imperial technology is barely understood and held together by purity seals and the chanting of a techpriest with fingers crossed. The Imperium can barely stitch Terminator suits together. I would think technology as complex as water synthesis would be extremely rare if not completely lost.

On a side note, Battlestar Galactica (the revisioned series) has an episode in which the Galactica's water supplies are nearly lost due to a terrorist attack. In the episode, it's explained that the ship has the technology to "recycle" water to the point where it can run for several years before requiring a refill of h2o. Even if every Imperial ship had that kind of technology... that's still a lot of water, and there are the technological issues I've already discussed.

Water (or any kind of resource, for that matter) is a topic rarely touched upon in the fluff and I think it deserved a discussion.

Comments?

-Mobius One.