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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Real Water?

I'm watching Frontline: Poisoned Waters on Netflix Watch Instantly. [Nowadays, outside of written material, it's the only contact I have with "The Media." I stopped actively watching television in 2001, following my cancellation to cable services.]  The first 40 minutes have been devoted to large-scale industrial/commercial chicken farming, and the effect the pollution from livestock waste has on Chesapeake Bay. For those of you who don't know where that is, it is the largest estuary in the United States and borders Maryland and Virginia. [Chesapeake Bay Map] There's a lot of industrial waste that comes from as far north as New York and Pennsylvania, and most of it is from livestock. It has poisoned the waters of the bay, hence the chilling title.

The condition of the world's water supply is alarming. Much of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians boils down to a desperate need for water. Most of the water on the earth's surface is locked up - undrinkable - in its oceans.  Even that is becoming alarmingly polluted as evidenced by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the garbage patches that exist in the Atlantic and Indian oceans. Thousands of people die each year due to polluted waters - as in the 2008-2009 Zimbabwean cholera outbreak. Oh, but is it more than thousands of people dying?

What's the real cost of the way we're living? As I sat here watching this program, I had the thought that we should be able to go outside and get clean water. For free. We've sacrificed a basic human right - the right to one of our most basic needs - clean drinking water. I can't get clean drinking water without making a purchase, either through fees paid to the city for water treatment for the water that comes from my faucet, or through the fee directly paid to a retailer for the water they have bought from somewhere else.

I think back to the books I read and loved as a child - all penned by Laura Ingalls Wilder - and think of the manner of living in her life. Water was important for those early settlers, but even they were able to collect rainwater for bathing, cleaning, and drinking. Would you want to bathe in rainwater you collected today? Or how about drinking from water that you collect from a river or a stream? No?

Would you go take a sip of the Big Muddy?

I'd pass on that one, too. That's not real water.

There are sustainable solutions for our water problems. Solutions that don't require massive amounts of chemical processing. Mechanical filtration with activated carbon, for instance, goes a long way to solving some of the safety concerns with tainted water. I heard about a man in Africa, he makes ceramic vessels that filter the water, they're dipped in colloidal silver solution which serves as a disinfectant. The water that comes out is 98% free of contaminants.

Better still, isn't it a more valuable solution to stop polluting the water supply?