Clean Water Day

I don’t know about you, but the glut of environmental issues and international crises is taking its toll on my ability to rise to each new wave with renewed energy and determination.

There is one item on that agenda that is so absolutely essential to human survival that it can not be set it aside even to attend to other problems.

That essential is clean water.  Without it, life, human or otherwise, would simply be over… in relatively short order.

It is, we are learning, an extremely finite resource, pushed further to its limits by over-development and climate change.  Even though we still flush it down the toilet without a thought, twenty-first century living is rapidly exhausting its  supply.

The very idea of ramping up commoditization of that ubiquitous necessity is only a recent development, aimed at lining people’s pockets rather than encouraging more responsible habits.

That is why, even with everything else I have to do, I plan to be in Montpelier tomorrow, March 17, for Clean Water Day, sponsored by the Vermont Natural Resource Council (VNRC), Vermont Conservation Voters, CLF, the Sierra Club and the Lake Champlain Committee.  

It runs from 9:30 AM – 12:PM in the Statehouse, and provides an opportunity for us to buttonhole our legislators and remind them how very important this single issue is to us.  If you can’t be there in person, this is a good time to drop a note to your legislators to tell them that this is a high priority for you as a voter.

Right here in Vermont, our main water concern at the moment is the critical condition of our beautiful Lake and how it impacts recreation and tourism opportunities; but it is not inconceivable that we may one day find ourselves joining other places in the country that face clean water shortages of ever expanding magnitude.

Last week in his topical monologue, Bill Maher quipped that LA has only one more year’s worth of water.  Everyone laughed, so I looked for the story online. Sure enough, there it was in the LA Times.  

The artificial Garden of Eden created in California by sucking-up life-giving ground water from as far away as Colorado  to support a twentieth century explosion of agriculture and development, is now nearing its logical conclusion.  

Even if business interests and private citizens can somehow be kept to strict rationing, future “California dreaming” will be mostly about water.  

At least the sunshine state has, for some time now, been trying to turn things around before it really is too late. Aquifers are also shrinking at alarming rates in states like Texas and New Mexico, where any kind of regulation is met with suspicion and resistance.

Vermont, touted as the “most progressive” state of all, is still blessed with adequate water supplies, but we chafe at limits on development related to wetlands protections, grouse at “over regulation” of stormwater, and no sector that can afford to is willing to make the kind of investments required to ensure recovery of our lake.

We can’t raise taxes on the uber-rich; we can’t increase rents established seventy years ago for public lands leased to the ski industry; and we can’t increase permit costs that might inhibit the expansion of impervious surfaces that act as highways for rapid delivery of pollutants to state waterways.

I’m going to Montpelier tomorrow to hear where the money is supposed to come from.  I have a feeling I won’t like the answer.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

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