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When are we going to learn water is vital to life?

Water is necessary for life
Water is necessary for life
Photo by Tom Hindman/Getty Images

Water is probably the most misused resource known to mankind. From the earliest times, it has been consistently polluted with human and animal waste – often unknowingly, when privies were dug too close to wells. A centennial history of Nashville I read some years ago revealed it took two cholera epidemics for the city fathers to realize water purification was needed. Boston first tackled the problem in 1875.

I learned the importance of water treatment from my grandfather, who was superintendent of the Madison Suburban Utility District from 1935 to about 1959. He was always concerned with water testing and his chlorinator. My father recalled the years before the TVA dams, when he helped his father drag the water plant intake pipe further and further into the drying Cumberland River during summer droughts. All this impressed me because, as an asthmatic, I need a whole lot of water.

Now almost everybody takes clean, drinkable water for granted, despite a former Nestle CEO proclaiming that it should be a commodity handled by businesses, not a natural human right. I’ve signed petitions against this and stopped buying Nestle products, but the worst danger water-loving humans face is from industrial chemicals that make water unusable.

The West Virginia chemical spill is just the latest example of how corporations misuse our vital resource without concern for human beings or environment. Freedom Industries’ tanks along the Elk River were not regularly inspected, because West Virginia is an anti-regulation state. Many citizens probably have second thoughts about this policy, since some have been driving 60 miles to take a shower. Few seem to trust the information given by official sources – with good reason. Two weeks after the spill reported by citizens, Freedom Industries admitted there were TWO chemicals in the leaking tank. (Query: Were these two chemicals safe to mix together?) Further, not much information is available on either chemical. The company has, naturally enough, filed for bankruptcy.

This story comes on top of reports of fracking damage to rural water supplies that have triggered lifelong gag orders on young children. When are we going to realize our water supplies are no more infinite than our Earth is?