I was posed the most interesting observation yesterday; one that frequently comes up when talking about our water. The observation is, “I think we shouldn’t try to sell our water to industry. We should protect it for our children!”
People who raise this concern, to me are very good-hearted. They care about the future and they don’t want to abuse or over-use resources. The scientific facts however, shed strong contradiction to this belief.
Think about this; It is hard enough to protect the water in a swimming pool and control its’ chemistry over the summer, let alone protect trillions of gallons of water, hundreds of feet under ground spread out over uncountable acreage. Scientifically speaking, we really don’t have the knowledge or resources to guarantee such sustainability.
Remember, it only takes one individual polluter to ruin an entire aquifer.
Memphis sits on an unstable geological fault which has a good probability of a major future plate shift. If that happens, quicker than you can blow your nose, our aquifer will have dribbled off to parts unknown. Consider also the possibility, God-forbid, of a terrorist-type attack. The water could become poisoned in the same fraction of a moment. There is no guarantee against either of these things.
Historically, aquifers come and go. One day, no matter what we do, the groundwater in the Mid South will be gone. Will this happen tomorrow? Will it happen in 500 years? Science is impotent to know these things.
Surely, it is one of our highest responsibilities to protect our water, and let me be clear; I have dedicated a lifetime to designing technology that purifies, protects and recycles water. Nobody gets conservation more than I do.
However, we also have a bigger responsibility for people who thirst now, need jobs now, need medical care now, and who live now, in these current times. The children of tomorrow? The conditions of the aquifer will be much different when they come to be, and it will be their responsibility at that time.
As an interesting side note, in addition to being an accomplished man of science, I also believe in God. Amazingly, Scripture comments on this topic in an uncanny manner. If you are Christian, you know the parable about watching the birds. Jesus advised “see how they are carefree? They do not hoard or worry about tomorrow.” He then continued “surely if I provide for them, I will provide for you, for I love you much more”.
Do you see the message here? To worry about using and prospering from our water is to proclaim that God does not have the competence to provide for us.
Now, If you don’t believe in God, I am fine with it. But it is also interesting that science, and the history of our planet bear out this parable because never once in the history of man has the earth not provided abundantly more water than man needed.
Also, consider that it takes millions of dollars to maintain water treatment systems and infrastructure. Municipalities are able to protect their water supply largely through the revenue provided by water rate users. Without a healthy and growing consumer water-user base, where would a city get the revenue required to keep up with the latest technology and the increasing threats to the water supply?
Groundwater is the single-most powerful economic tool and quality-of-life-benefit we have. As jobs, residents and hope continue to hemorrhage out of towns like Memphis, this business of “hoarding, and fondling our groundwater is not just ill conceived, it is morally irresponsible.”