In a responsible, scientifically sound decision, the Shelby County Ground Water Control Board denied an appeal by the local Sierra Club intended to prevent the TVA from using local groundwater. Anyone who has read my blog knows that I found the Sierra Club petition to be flawed. Respected, but flawed. The 7 – 0 denial was not the only proof of that pudding, because a big part of the decision was a result of geology consultant Donald Brice exposing the petitioner’s claim of near-by clay breaches to be greatly exaggerated.
There is a great misconception that if you are an environmental activist, science will always be on your side. News Flash – Science doesn’t care which side you are on. The practice of providing scientifically inaccurate data in this type of debate is nothing new. However, sometimes science doesn’t agree with us, no matter how good our intentions are The governing bodies should be very wary of giving credibility to any future activist water-related initiatives based on what was in this case, an inaccurate petition. Responsible activism mandates a purposeful and heightened level of scrutiny from both the public and government.
I BELIEVE THE LOCAL WATER ACTIVISTS OWE THE PUBLIC AN APOLOGY FOR SUPPLYING ERRANT INFORMATION.
To me however, there is a much bigger issue than the TVA wells and Sierra Club water concerns. What bothers me is that much of the public still does not understand the Board’s decision. Many will walk away from this ruling feeling as if big brother took advantage of the Aquifer.
THE BIGGER LESSON
While the furor and tensions of this particular debate are over, soon, another issue will arise. The Sierra Club will likely, at some point, launch another water-related concern. The general public, wanting to do the right thing, will side with the activists, assuming that science is on their side. This is normal and it is how activism works.
Accordingly, there is a great need to provide scientifically-sound, politically-neutral water education to the public. Right now, Memphis and most communities are failing miserably at this crucial need. I am here to tell you that until the public becomes more informed about water, every charlatan, industrialist, and activist looking to promote themselves will wrap their grubby little fingers around our water. The Sierra Club is just one example of how local activism can get a bit ahead of itself.
One of the goals of my work is to initiate, participate in and promote water education and create a water-smart public. Wish me luck!