Water- Our Most Vital Resource
Nation Wide- In our first two inquiries concerning water in the United States we looked at the home and how we, as individuals, might carefully seek ways to keep our water clean and safe. We then looked at the community and again how we might not be a part of the problem. Now, as we look further into the water quality and supply in the United States we will point out some of the areas of the country that already have problems and then what lays ahead. Flint, Michigan is not the only place called attention to with water pollution. In August of 2016 according to AgMag and an article by Brett Lorenzen, Director of Midwest Outreach, Des Moines, Iowa Water Works warned customers of elevated levels of microcystins, a toxin created by bacteria, in their drinking water. Such toxins can cause a myriad of problems from liver failure to other serious health issues.
It’s pretty scary when one is told to avoid consuming too much water, since dehydration in August can certainly occur. The irony of such a situation is that the Water Works is under no obligation to warn the public. The EPA has set no legal limit on this toxin. This type of problem is not new to Des Moines as they regularly face such issues. Being a big farm area this is one of the sites in the US that has severe runoff of toxins from industrial agriculture.
Going all the way across the country, and as recent as September 16, 2016, we find that pipeline operator, Colonial Pipeline, has announced a gasoline pipeline spill has occurred in Alabama and the governor has declared a state of emergency. This doesn’t just affect Alabama but also, Georgia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina. The pipeline leak has spilled 6,000 barrels of gasoline in rural Alabama to date. They will begin digging up the line, but no one knows the total amount of gasoline that will soak into the soil and eventually gravitate to water sources. Pipelines are perhaps a necessity, but also can be a liability. Further on we find the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Native Americans fighting for their land not to have a pipeline go through it under the Missouri River. Not only have their burial grounds been bulldozed but the possibility of the pipeline breaking concerns the Natives for their water supply, just as we are seeing on the East Coast.
As if there are not enough concerns already about water we must also face the fact that our drinking water everywhere is being contaminated through human drug waste in sewage and medicine flushed down toilets. Just consider the sheer number of Americans taking drugs such as statins, acid reflux, antidepressants, blood thinners, and the list goes on. All of these end up in our waterways eventually and only a certain amount can be treated through waste water treatment centers. Organic Consumers Association reports that the testing of New Orleans water found pain reliever naproxen, the sex hormone estrone and cholesterol drug byproducts. We are just beginning to realize all the drugs prescribed, and many not, ending up in our water and causing problems. Unfortunately, the first signs of drugs being in our water show up in the fish. As early as 2003 fish became the indicator we had a problem with drugs in our waterways. But drugs don’t just come from the individuals, “factory farms” are also a big source of drugs in the water.
One last point to be made about the danger of clean water becoming a rare commodity are the aging pipes and outdated treatment plants that threaten our nation’s drinking water systems. Many of our treatment plants are using nearly century-old technology. Politicians hold off on “things not seen” to make a bigger “splash” with things seen. The treatment plants are not the only antiquated concern, our pipes leading to homes and businesses are equally old. The Bush administration committed $850 million a year through 2018 for assistance to the nation’s drinking water systems, according to the EPA, but it is estimated it will take $500 billion over the next twenty years to really fix the nation’s public water system.
With such a gloomy picture we want to look for solutions and that will be our focus in the next of this series. There are ways to “Re-think” the water crisis as one such article promises. We will take a look at that article and see what is suggested.
Overall preparation for what nature can throw at us is not that overwhelming but it does take a little effort. USI has a wealth of information, equipment and training for everyone about all forms of mitigation so visit our web site at www.usiusa.com and if you have a need feel free to call!
USI Understands that Survival isn’t learned from books but real world experience. This is just one area which makes Universal Survival Innovations unique in the world of training and equipment.
Author Ben Barr is a 30+ year SERE Specialist who has been a curriculum developer for the USAF Survival School, USAF Water Survival School, USAF Air Mobility Command, USMC and USN
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