- Day after day, day after day,
- We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
- As idle as a painted ship
- Upon a painted ocean.
- Water, water, every where,
- And all the boards did shrink;
- Water, water, every where,
- Nor any drop to drink. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
- by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Have you begun to notice that we have a problem with water? Or several, actually.
First, there is shortage. California, for example, is in the third year of a drought and reservoirs are drawn to lows never seen since the days they were first being filled. This photo, taken by Graham while I was driving on I-5 in northern California, shows how that the water level in Shasta Lake is about 50 feet below normal. The local tourism newspaper is trying to put a good spin on it saying that fishing is great since the fish are all concentrated in the areas of deep pools. In reality, this is a sign of bad trouble.
Agricultural production in California provides nearly half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts consumed in the United States. This year farmers are finding the reservoirs are unreliable so much of the water is coming from underlying aquifers. UC Davis, the premier agricultural college in the state, warns that continued use of the aquifers means it will be dry within 2 years.
No water……for much of California. The results of that are going to be horrible.Elsewhere, like Charleston, West Virginia, throughout much of the states that have fracking, and other areas where industrial dumping occurs, ground water and surface water is becoming more and more polluted with hazardous effects on health. In West Virginia the dump may have been accidental but as soon as the corporation declared bankruptcy and reorganized with the expedited assistance of the court system, the collusion of the people in power was shown. There seems to be little concern about safety of our water. I wonder what the people in power are thinking; do they think they are immune?
Hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas occurs in many states and although the mining companies have always assured people that there is no danger, many environmental changes have occurred in those areas since the operations began. Besides the increased earthquakes throughout Oklahoma, the chief concern is ground water pollution as well as surface water pollution. The EPA has been conducting a study with results expected this year but many other organizations have documented the substantial decline in safe drinking water in those areas. In addition, many of the areas where companies have enticed landowners for fracking leases are agricultural, which means pollution effects on animals and crops are also beginning to be identified. That means the food you purchase to eat, even if it is organic, could be affected if it originates close to a well.
If you shrug this off, thinking you are not affected since you don’t live in these areas, you need to think again. Perhaps you don’t cook so you don’t purchase fresh produce. Perhaps you don’t eat almonds or walnuts or other nuts. Or perhaps you just don’t do the grocery shopping. Prices in supermarkets around the country are showing higher prices for fruit, vegetable and nuts because of the long term drought in California.
Please recall one fact you probably learned in school. Over 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water, with 90% of that in the oceans. All water that flows over the land ends up in the ocean. All aquifers have some connection as well. If you use well water, you are pulling from an aquifer. When you water your lawn, when you take a shower, that water goes into the ground via a septic system or it enters the sewage treatment system and therefore flows back out into a stream or river. As waters mix with contaminants, it gets polluted.
Think you can manage by using bottled water? Did you know that no one checked the quality of the water in those bottles so it actually may be more polluted than your tap water. I won;t even talk about the wasteful use of the plastic bottles right now.
The bottom line: there are many countries in other parts of the world, places we consider Third World, who have long been suffering from a shortage of safe drinking water. The United States is rapidly falling into their level. Some areas of the nation have 5-30% of the people receiving polluted water through their public water supply.