Water is Life

Water is life. Yet, the EPA, under the direction of the current administration is changing the interpretation and implementation of the Clean Water Act. This will result in up to 6 million miles of streams (half of the total in the U.S.) and 42 million acres of wetlands (again, about half) no longer being protected from being used as a dumping ground for industrial and household pollutants.

The change is to focus on only protecting permanent waterways and not bodies of water that dry up at any time during the seasons. This is 2020 isn’t it? How can this even be a consideration with so much evidence that pollutants such as lead and mercury have had profound effects on the population of the U.S. (and other countries), let alone the damage done to these ecosystems.

The willful ignorance is shocking.

Water is life. This is not a metaphorical statement. Coursing through my body are water molecules that could be thousands, millions, even billions of years old. Our lives are sustained by, and intimately connected to the flow of water throughout the global water cycle. This is a physical connection we all experience every moment of every day. The majority of water on the earth is in forms we cannot use and to sustain living function the available freshwater must be continually recycled by the earth system.

Once polluted, that water cannot be truly cleaned unless effectively distilled (through the evaporation component of the water cycle) when the individual water molecules float into the air and leave behind the pollutants dissolved and suspended between the water molecules. Problem solved, right? No. Those pollutants are left behind in the soil in greater and greater concentration.

We know this. Individuals in the administration making decisions know this. And if they don’t, they aren’t qualified for the job they are doing. But, we know this too.

Water is life. Water in our streams and wetlands are not a commodity. But this is how we treat it. We know that if you remove regulations controlling what corporations or home owners/individuals can dump into wetlands or streams, they will begin putting pollutants like lead and mercury back into these water systems.

Even though these waterways are not liquid 100% of the year that doesn’t eliminate the impact of the pollution dumped there. The next time that waterway fills it will “dissolve” those pollutants and carry those chemicals to anything that uses that water, be it plants, wildlife, or humans. What isn’t absorbed by an organism in that location eventually gets carried to a more permanent body of water fed by these vernal or temporary pools/streams either downstream or in the aquifer connected to that body of water. Either way, it eventually gets into the larger system and into all living systems relying upon that water for life–including us.

We know this too. Why are we even having to discuss this? How can anyone think it is not wrong to dump waste anywhere? I mean really, WTF?

Water is life. But instead of treating it as a sacred component of life, we once again are letting the interest of corporations’ profits dictate our decisions. The metaphorical swamp that was promised to be drained is now going to destroy the real “swamps” that sustain our ecosystems and therefore us! It’s very difficult to not just type a string of expletives in an angry tirade at this point.

A few will make even more money by destroying a public commons of fresh water and we the people will eventually pay the price. We will do so literally when we fund some future clean up effort with tax dollars, and we will pay the price with the health of our children and grandchildren.

Of course this will affect the poor and marginalized in our society the most since corporation decision-makers won’t dump waste in areas that affect their homes, but instead in areas nearer the poor and marginalized. This repeated pattern demonstrates they know it’s wrong and harmful to do this, but will do it anyway and then resist all efforts to be held accountable. In the end the cost of clean up will be less than the profit made so for them it is just a cost of business. But for the rest of us it is the cost of our lives.

Water is life. Until it isn’t.

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