This I Believe

Denis - Fort Worth, Texas
Entered on February 15, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: environment
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This I Believe – A River Runs through Life.

I believe in water. I came to this belief quite late. The epiphany began during a waterfowl hunt. It had been a slow morning in the goose blind. A bottle of water lay at my feet. I picked it up and to pass the time read the label ‘Pure artesian water, micron filtered, de-ionized, triple ozonated, UV irradiated. “My goodness,” I thought, “why did already pure water need such treatment?” The next shock was an expiration date. I had no idea that water expired or went bad. Moreover this pint of water had cost me more than a gallon of gasoline. “What’s going on here?” I thought. In the old days I merely turned on the faucet and out came potable water. This got me seriously thinking about water.

Having lived in Seattle for thirty odd years, water had not been much of an issue, except that there was generally too much of it. We did have some dry years when the city mandated watering restrictions. But relocating to Texas brought the issue of water home in a very personal way. I had moved to a semi-rural area west of Fort Worth and found that my water arrived via a well from the Paluxy aquifer, a few hundred feet underground. It was less than perfect, with enough sulfur to make our house smell like a spa. But modern technology using magic crystals removed all the impurities and the odor, and with the additional help of reverse osmosis I stopped buying bottled water.

Then a developer began muscling in on the neighborhood. His plans – pave over paradise, build forty ticky-tacky homes and place forty more straws in the aquifer. Water is no longer a simple commodity to me. It has suddenly become critical – a life and death issue. Government, at all levels, is way behind in managing our water resources. The laws governing the use of and access to water were largely written over a century ago – when a few hardy souls practiced primitive agriculture. Those few souls now number in the millions, agriculture has given way to manicured front yards and golf courses and the aquifers are being depleted. I have to live with antiquated water rights and regulations written for a long past era. The ‘Right of Capture’ is as entrenched in land law as is the right of free speech in the US constitution. This permits my prospective neighbor to extract all the underground water he wants, regardless of how he uses it, and regardless of whether I shrivel up and blow away.

I am not the only one who believes deeply in water. T. Boone Pickens and other financiers are quietly buying up water rights across the country. They know full well that this will be the limiting resource of the future. Forget about oil, and gas, and timber, and minerals. We have come full circle. During the early days of urbanization nobody drank water because the health risks were too high. Beer and wine were the drinks de jour. And soon we too will no longer be able to drink water – it will be too unsafe or too expensive. By the way, those geese never arrived either. The wetlands on their old migration route were changed last year into strip malls.

For me today, water is an obsession. It is something I truly believe in; for once it is gone so will I.