My Water, My Responsibility

I know where my water comes from.  Shouldn’t we all?  It shouldn’t appear miraculously in our houses.  That’s too must trust to people in other people and too little responsibility on our parts.  I want to take responsibility for my water usage.  My water use raises several questions for me:

  • How does my use, especially any overuse, of water impact the communities and ecosystems at the sources of that water?
  • What pollutants or additives could be in that water?
  • Do I need to take responsibility for keeping that water source clean?

My Water

How do I know where my water comes from?  I read the water quality reports my company sends us with our bills and I called the water company.

My water comes from the Delaware River (see it above in this site’s banner).  It is piped from the river to two plants that distribute it.  I just so happen to get my water from a mix of the two plants.

Fluoride

My water company recently changed one of my two sources.  We used to get part of our water from the Philadelphia water company.  They fluoridate their water.  Now, none of my water is fluoridated.  I think that’s a good thing.  Granted, artificial fluoride has done wonders for good teeth.  But forced fluoridation has its problems.

  • It’s forced, when voluntary methods are available.
  • There’s no accounting for dosage of individuals.
  • The fluoride is sent into the whole body, rather than focusing on the teeth alone.
  • Excess fluoridation may cause, at the very least, cosmetic issues and perhaps even more serious health issues, such as osteoporosis when we became older.

Given the above issues, forced fluoridation doesn’t make sense to me.  I got plenty of fluoride as a child.  But I got it at school as a little red tablet.  We chewed them, so the fluoride was applied directly to the teeth, where it was needed.  So we didn’t have to worry about things like overdoses making our bones brittle.

Pollution

Now I know where my water comes from.  Now I need to make sure it stays clean.  In Pennsylvania, we have to worry about pollution from fracking.  There are certainly other potential sources of pollution, but they tend to be regulated better and there’s greater openness and monitoring when pollution does occur from other sources.

But our federal and state representatives handed out special exemptions to gas companies that use fracking (Frackers are exempt from the Safe Water Drinking Act, SuperFund laws, and environmental impact statements – for example).  They generally haven’t had to identify the chemicals they pump into the ground.  If we don’t know what the potential pollutants are, how can my water company test for them?

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection had been hiding their investigations of fracking pollution cases.  Only just last month, after six years of heavy fracking in northern Pennsylvania, did the DEP finally release (very quietly) their reports on the pollution of wells.  You can read them for yourself here.  So much for industry claims about there being no well pollution from fracking.

And if you get sick from fracking chemicals?  The PA Department of Health isn’t going to help you.  The department refused to follow up on complaints.  Frackers get special treatment in Pennsylvania.

So it’s hard for me to even know just how clean my water is.  The people of Pennsylvania will have to, at the very least, end special treatment for frackers and make them comply with all of the laws on pollution and monitoring.  Even still, what will we do when some drilling or storage failure leads to a major spill into the Delaware basin?  It’s too late then.  And all this for an industry that contributes little to our tax revenue, mostly hires people from out of state, destroys the roads in the areas they work, and will provide any local economic benefit for only a few years.

There’s too much to say about fracking to include it here.  I recommend Walter Brasch’s Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting with Disaster visiting the website of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network.

Impact on Ecosystems

I have no idea what the impact of water withdrawal is on the river ecosystems.  We’re not going to not drink the water.  But are we taking more than we need?  And, if so, at what cost?  I need to figure out answers to this.

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