This post, while regionally focused should cause everyone to think about about how their own communities address their water. In both this blog, and in my upcoming book “Safe Water For Everyone” I address the critical need for America to develop a National Water Plan. We are faced with contamination, shortages, drought, and aging infrastructure as a nation and as individual communities. There has never been a more critical time to be focused on water issues. Sadly, we have never been more critically misdirected in our understanding of water than we are right now. My community of Memphis has a leadership position in water behavior that continues to leave us all vulnerable to problems.
Oh for sure Memphis is populated with water well wishers; activists who, at the drop of a hat will band together to attack a local entity who is perceived as threatening the local water supply. Once these episodes simmer however, these groups sweep themselves back under the rug and the real water threats remain.
In Memphis we are blessed with an almost ancient aquifer that was filled with pristine rainwater many years ago. Since that time, the aquifer has been refilled and maintained with modern storm water, rainwater and run off bearing the contaminants of more than one-hundred years worth of our industrialized civilization. Drugs, feces, fertilizers, road solvents, grease, paint, and all the other waste that you and I generate constantly pour into our aquifer every moment of every day.
For the bounty of water Memphis has, it is 100%, completely devoid of qualified water leadership and vision. The one shining exception to this sad declaration is former Memphis Mayor A.C Wharton who created the Blue Stream Task Force to address crucial water issues. Sadly, the current Mayor has no such vision.
Here are just some of the issues true Memphis water leadership should be addressing;
- Upgrading current treatment technology to handle today’s new contaminants such as microplastics and PFAS
- Addressing the degradation of the aquifer filtering sand, and the increasing silica levels in the tap water
- Connecting treatment plants to the Mississippi river in the event a geological event makes the aquifer unavailable
- Upgrading current treatment technology to process Mississippi River water in the event of a disastrous aquifer event
- Increasing the physical security of current water resources.
It is my opinion that the biggest threat to my water, your water and really the water of the entire nation is that the effort to manage it is largely being lead by individuals who have no actual training, education, or experience in water science. The Wall Street Journal recently did a great story on Elon Musk who maintains that we are suffering a cancer within American corporations by business people who have no real experience in the industries they are leading.
When we read that our water efforts are being lead by politicians, volunteers, real estate moguls or local Bill Gates types, we should be afraid. I surely am. If safe water is our goal, it is high time we develop solid water management philosophies that are developed and implemented by actual water professionals.