Water should not be taken for granted

Cool, clear water.

It’s the lifeblood of civilization, yet there are so many in this world who lack that basic necessity. According to Water.org, 1 in 10, or 663 million people lack access to safe drinking water. We were recently reminded that this isn’t only a third-world country issue.

Residents of Flint, Mich., recently discovered that water quality issues can also hit us right here in the land of plenty. Flint had been buying water from Detroit, but due to budget constraints quit that in 2014 and then started using water from the Flint River. The river water was not properly treated and leached lead from the city’s aging water pipes. The city resumed buying water from Detroit, but the lead contamination continued. A lot of finger pointing ensued, but aside from the uptick in bottled water sales and stringent reminders of limiting use of the municipal water, not a lot of answers or solutions.

Iowa farmers near Des Moines are also learning that water can cause legal fights. The Des Moines Water Works has filed a lawsuit against several upstream agriculture drainage districts, saying that farmland runoff causes high levels of nitrates forcing the water utility to spend millions of dollars to remove the contaminants before reaching the 500,000 customers. Attorneys will be meeting with a judge May 11 to decide on a trial date.

As we all know agriculture is often the whipping boy over water quality issues which has never made sense because we on the farm are the first to be impacted by a tainted water supply. If we pollute the land, our rural wells are a direct conduit to our taps.

Hog farmers know the importance of water. On a hot, humid day a ceased water supply can be disastrous in the barns. A tainted water supply to the barns can also turn hogs away from the waterers.

I know that I’m a couple weeks late to be giving the big Earth Day lecture, but the need, want, wish for cool, clear water recently hit close to home.

My father-in-law had been battling myriad health issues since Thanksgiving, and about a month ago suffered a stroke. The stroke limited the use of his right side, but it also inhibited his swallowing mechanism. He could take limited amounts of certain liquids, but they had to be thickened to prevent the liquid from going straight to his lungs. He didn’t like it, to say the least.

He was still able to communicate, and he kept pleading for “cool, clear water.” A wish that we couldn’t grant because we knew it could/would kill him. Yet, he pleaded for “cool, clear water.”

I don’t think that I will ever look at a glass of water the same again. A great resource that we all too often take for granted: cool, clear water.

This Saturday we say goodbye to Jim. He is no longer fighting all the ailments that brought him down, no longer ingesting the dozens of pills he had to consume each day. I hope and pray that he has found peace, and has been lead to walk beside quiet waters.

Cool, clear water.

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