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Thomas Paine

To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Water Concerns

The Health of Our Society Is Mirrored in the Health of Our Rivers

As long as we see rivers as something to be consumed or treated as a dump, we will never be a healthy society. Sick, contaminated, overtapped rivers are a sign of a sick society.

We began to realize this when massive dams began to store water for droughts, to generate electricity, and to stop floods, and along with this, also began to destroy free-flowing rivers, wipe out massive populations of fish, and change the character of our wild lands.

We watched the Cuyahoga River burn on national television in 1969, and we eventually passed the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act to slow industrial wastes from killing our rivers and to protect our tap water quality. We passed the Endangered Species Act in 1973 to prevent our ignorance or hubris from literally wiping species of plants, animals, birds, and fish from the face of the planet.

As of 2008, the 40th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, the U.S. Wild and Scenic River System protects around 11,000 miles of 166 rivers in 38 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico; this is a little more than one-quarter of one percent of the nation's rivers. By comparison, more than 75,000 large dams across the country have modified at least 600,000 miles, or about 17%, of American rivers.

L.A. Creek Freak

News and Events – 17 July 2009

Will Much of New Orleans Be Underwater by 2100?

Unless enormous amounts of soil are dumped onto the Mississippi River Delta, the region could lose up to 5,212 square miles of land to ocean and tidal marsh by 2100 -- a result of sea-level rise and the land sinking.
Even if levees are intentionally breached to supply fresh sediment to the delta, the Mississippi River would fall billions of tons short of delivering enough silt to maintain a delta that looks anything like it does today.

Citizen-Led Groups Leading the Way for New Water Policy

With the onset of climate change deepening the world water crisis, discussions about how to manage our water systems, which once seemed wonky, are suddenly attracting increased public attention.

We should treat water as a common good. This idea means that water is no one's property -- and everyone's. It is part of the commons, rightfully belonging to all of humanity, nature and to the earth itself.

The principal venue for global water policy discussions is not the United Nations but the World Water Forum, a mostly pro-privatization, tri-annual gathering of government delegations, non-governmental organizations, international financial institutions, and private industry representatives. It is convened by the World Water Council, a French non-profit whose board of governors is dominated by the powerful water industry.

In Bangladesh and Brazil public water utilities are seeking public loans rather than private equity to improve water delivery infrastructure. They are bucking the privatization trend, refusing financing from development agencies like the World Bank when privatization is one of the conditions to receive a loan.

Three Myths Debunked: The Truth About California's Water Shortfall

Two months ago, DWR director Lester Snow testified before Congress that if there had been no court order to protect fish, CVP deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley would only be 5% higher. The problems farmers are facing aren't due to the tiny portions of water offered up for ecosystems; they are due to a drought and a dysfunctional water management system that has been slowly collapsing for decades.

Wake Up California, Here's What a Real Water Crisis Looks Like

Australian rice production has dropped to zero because there is not enough water. And that is only one measure of the severity of their water crisis.

The hot, dry conditions have led to unprecedented bushfires, deaths, and property destruction. Power plants have shut down for lack of cooling water. Cotton, wheat, and other crop production also plummeted. The Australian Bureau of Statistics calculated that more than 10,500 families gave up farming between 2001 and 2006.

Growing Food in a Desert City Using Rainwater and Urban Runoff

Taking his cue from the ancient traditions of indigenous Tohono O'odham, Russ raised his crops solely on direct rainfall and runoff harvested from short bursts of sporadic summer monsoon rains

Midland Texas wells polluted with chromium

As of June 30, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has found contamination in about one-third of the 125 wells tested in Cotton Flats, a community south of Interstate 20 on the fringe of Midland.
Most of the Cotton Flats homes are in Midland County and are not connected to the city's water supply.
The highest reading was 5,250 parts of chromium per billion — or more than 50 times the maximum allowed by the EPA.

Love Thy Neighbor: The Immorality of Marijuana Prohibition

In 2007, California law enforcement made over 74,000 marijuana arrests, 78 percent of which were for simple possession. Of those arrested, more than 16,000 were minors.
Despite the powerful deterrent of arrest and prosecution, this expenditure of state resources has had little effect. In 2008, 23 percent of teenagers still report that it is easier to procure marijuana than either beer or prescription drugs.

By banning distribution of marijuana anywhere, we have given up control of distribution everywhere. By limiting our responses to marijuana distribution to criminal punishment, we have failed to protect the consumer's safety through regulating the product's quality and encouraging responsible use.

Energy Industry Threatens Water Quality, Sways Congress with Misleading Data

In 2005 hydraulic fracturing was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act, based on assurances that the process was safe. But a series of ProPublica reports has identified a number of cases in which water has been contaminated in drilling areas across the country, and EPA scientists say they can’t fully investigate them because of the exemption.

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