Water Water Everywhere?
I haven't had much to rant about lately. Not because I'm not infuriated by all things political: McCain’s lies, Palin's ineptitude, the government bailout of banks that the government helped get rich in the first place. Oh yeah, there’s been plenty to rail about.
The problem is, Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann have been beating me to the rants. Olbermann makes very good points, but at times his logic is clouded by his leanings. Rachel (may I call you “Rachel”), on the other hand, is pure logical progressive. Her wit and intellect are packaged well in a pleasant and unassuming demeanor. When she wants to, she can be angry, but most of the time she is able to laugh off the ridiculousness she sees around her. (I wish I could do that.)
Gushing about Rachel aside, I did find something rant-worthy in my inbox today. In an email from Birders United, I learned of a bill that has been proposed by George Radanovich (R-CA) that would allow California to ignore the Endangered Species Act in times of drought. This is clearly a move by an agro-friendly congressman to provide relief for corporate farms during times of drought. The bill does nothing to encourage farmers, or regular citizens, to conserve water in the first place.
The subject of water conservation really boils my blood. We do so little as a nation to try to conserve water. We seem to feel as a society that there is no limit to the amount of water we should be able to use.
Every summer day I see businesses watering their lush green lawns in the middle of the day. This makes me crazy. Not only is this a huge waste of water (up to 25% of the water evaporates before it soaks into the ground), but it is also a bad business decision (higher water bill because of the evaporation).
On the Caribbean islands, they collect the rain water from roofs to use in bathing and flushing. Rain water runoff from our residential roofs washes fertilizer from our over-treated lawns down the storm drains and right into our streams. We could collect this water, reduce our need to pump from the aquifer, and reduce our runoff all at the same time. I’m not saying we need to bathe in it, but a simple collection tank in our basements could provide water for lawns and landscaping for the whole year.
I’m no expert on water use, and I don’t know what measures are needed for saving water in the agricultural industry. But I do know that if every home and business in California were using currently available technologies and strategies to save water, there would be millions of gallons of water available for farmers without the need to ignore environmental concerns.
I just sent this email to my US Representative, Kenny Hulshof (R-MO), regarding the bill:
I am writing to ask that you vote against the California Drought Alleviation Act of 2008 (HR6940).
This act would allow that state to declare that their needs supersede the regulations established in the Endangered Species Act.
I understand that in a time of crisis drastic measures sometimes need to be taken. And in fact, there is already a law on the books in California that allows that state to bypass the ESA when human need warrants it. I think that it is clear that this bill is intended to bail out the agri-businesses, rather than to avert some catastrophic human crisis.
Passing this bill would set a precedent that might affect us in Missouri as well. We can't afford to open the door to every farming state up-river from Missouri, allowing them to sacrifice our environmental concerns to meet their water needs.
As a society, we look for the easiest way possible to avert a crisis without making any changes to our own bad habits. This measure allows California to take the easy way out, when very few people are pushing for the more sensible solution -- developing strategies to conserve water in the first place. In not doing so, the message we are sending is that businesses (and citizens) can waste all the water they want -- when times get tough we’ll just ignore environmental concerns and pump more water.
The easy way out will not work forever. We have to decide to make conservation a priority before it is too late.
Please do your part to be a leader in this effort -- for Missouri’s future and for our nation’s.
Thank you for your time.