A terrible news story hit the Memphis area this past week that involved two poor dogs that got sick and lost their lives after swimming in a pond in nearby Shelby Farms. This enrages me. Not because that water is toxic and polluted, but because people continue to be simpletons when it comes to water.
I have written several blog pieces about how dangerous water is, especially when it is unchlorinated. As I wrote in the past, contamination is the natural condition of water. The Shelby Farms water, like any other lake, is a natural breeding ground and accumulation point for dangerous chemicals and organisms. Herbicides, feces from captive bison, runoff from a local landfill, other dogs leaving only God knows what behind and frequent stormwater bringing oil, grease and other chemicals from traffic are just some of the constant, and active threats to this water. Add to that constant 80%+ humidity and stagnant air-flow and you have a recipe for disease.
There are so many things wrong with this story that my brain wants to explode. I would like to know who these so-called “experts” are that thought a communal doggie pond was a good idea in the first place? Now they are going to perform tests? For what pray tell? Volatile Organics? Pesticides? Bacteria? Viruses? Algae? Pharmaceuticals? Fuels, Oxyanions? Lochness?
Here is the problem that the “experts” can’t seem to comprehend. Water is dynamic. The lab analysis we perform today is only accurate at the time we take it. What we learn in an analysis today very well may tell you nothing about what happened 2 days ago. Yep, you are hearing this correctly. The water contaminants that killed dogs a couple of days ago may have long since evaporated, decomposed or dissolved by the time a lab gets back with results.
It’s simple. Realize that man cannot save or keep safe any body of water. There are voluminously far-too-many present-day contaminants literally coming out of the woodwork for any study to isolate and identify. There is no “saving our aquifer”, “saving our river” or saving any other body of water. Accepting this scientific reality is the mandatory first step in developing safe water policies.
Am I saying that we should not be better stewards of our water? Of course not. But we need to stop being naive and cease applying folklore, old wives tales and impotent self-important activism to water. Water is dangerous. Unchlorinated water is the most dangerous of all. It always has been.
In 1960 the risks we faced swimming in local bodies of water were a minuscule fraction of what than they are today. If we want to swim and be safe, we must do so in a high-confidence pool. Swim in a natural body of water? Just remember, contamination is the natural state of water and the menu of deadly contaminants our bodies of water have to choose from today is astronomical.
If you love your pups and family keep them out of lakes and ponds.