COLUMN: Musings of a Simple Country Man

Hobie Morris

Our water: dinosaurs to Brookfield

Water flows through the Bible 722 times.

When the well runs dry, we know the worth of water. — Benjamin Franklin

The golden age of water, free and abundant, is over — Charles Fishman, “The Big Thirst”

For most Americans turning on the faucet brings safe, clean water. But not for everyone. Globally, contaminated water kills countless millions annually, especially the young. More than two billion people live in areas with life-threatening chronic water scarcity. And it’s getting worse.

Demand for fresh water is increasing dramatically with a rapid population explosion, with nearly 10 billion people projected by 2050, with nearly 50 percent living in areas with inadequate fresh water. Adding to a burgeoning population are wars, pollution and climate changes further deepening this water crisis.

Every living thing, including the President of the United States, needs water to live. We in the developed world use and waste water as if it is an infinite resource. Scarcity being somebody else’s problem. All around the world, there are water-famished and polluted-water areas, including here in the United States. Today we read of the severity of drought resulting in widespread famine in huge areas of East Africa, producing a crisis affecting the lives of over 20,000,000.

Ironically, in reality, planet earth should be called planet water. Nearly 70 percent of earth’s surface is water—97 percent of which is salty. Of the remaining 3 percent, only 1 percent is usable fresh water for our personal needs, agricultural, energy or manufacturing. If you put all the world’s water into a five-gallon bottle, of the three teaspoons representing fresh water, only one teaspoon is available for all. With the projection for water needs, unless immediate action is

With the projection for water needs, unless immediate action is taken, the water crisis will escalate into global instability that will make the oil crisis of very little importance. Ben Franklin’s warnings were correct as we usher in the calamitous age of water poverty.

Living off the grid, now beginning our 37th year, my incredibly beautiful, very tolerant and courageous wife Lois often discusses such global problems. One night recently, I mirthfully suggested to Lois that President Trump and I have several things in commion: beautiful wives, great wealth (mine is far less tangible and more Thoreau-like) and lastly we each must drink water every day. While we can go for weeks without eating, we need water at least every three days. Without water for five days, we’ll probably be dead. President Trump gets his water from a golden faucet. Ours in Brookfield is far more primitive.

While we can go for weeks without eating, we need water at least every three days. Without water for five days, we’ll probably be dead. President Trump gets his water from a golden faucet. Ours in Brookfield is far more primitive.

President Trump may never invite Lois and me to the White House. For one reason, we haven’t taken a bath in over 36 years. We also don’t have electricity, running water, a bathtub, a flush toilet or much of anything else. Unlike most Americans, we don’t use much water, and often use it several times before returning it to the earth (yes, we do wash daily with a small cloth, frayed towel and a basin of heated water).

All our fresh water comes from a shallow spring only three feet deep. It’s pure, icy cold and wonderfully sweet-tasting. In more than 90 years, this spring has never stopped flowing. I often wonder just how many millions of gallons (at a little over a gallon a minute) have bubbled to the surface during those years. Its underground vein meandering like a tot at play for nearly a mile to its source at the top of a wooded hill behind our home. Here the vein rises from the earth’s depth and begins its invisible underground journey to where it flows eventually to the surface. In all seasons, I bucket this water out and convey it to our home some one-half mile away.

At seven pounds a gallon, you feel every cup of water you drink, cook and wash with, etc. When you have to physically carry your water, you don’t waste it.

The average American uses 100 gallons of fresh water a day—700 pounds if you had to carry it.

Very frugal with water, lovely Lois and I use maybe three gallons total between us each day, compared to 200 gallons (l,400 pounds) for the average couple, if you had to carry this daily average. Every day around the world 1.25 million hours are devoted mostly by women to carrying five gallons of water on their heads.

Twenty-first century pioneering wife Lois and I feel extremely blessed to have daily access to this amazing gift and how fortunate we are to live in fresh water abundant Central New York.

Few people probably know that every fresh water molecule has been on this planet for billions of years. If I could I would mirthfully chide President Trump that the water he drinks in all likelihood once passed through the gigantic kidneys of a dinosaur some hundred million years ago. “Recycled water even for the President!” (Is this possibly where man’s predatory instincts come from? Our government at times reminds me of the newly discovered 65 ton, 80 foot long Dreadnoughtus Schrani with impressive kidneys and a brain the size of a cat. With all due respect to our feline friends, these dimensions remind me of our political process.)

Lois and I use what I call regular water—that we can see, feel and taste. But each of us also uses virtual water: water that we don’t see. Everything that we use and consume takes large amounts of water to produce. Americans, for instance, use 2,115 gallons of water daily for such things as bottled water, blue jeans, T-shirts, all the food we eat, the electricity we turn on.

One brief illustration: one cup of coffee takes 39 gallons of water to produce. Few Americans realize the staggering amount of water it takes to satisfy or seen and unseen needs.

Each one of us must strive to do far better conserving our very limited and dangerously imperiled fresh water supply. It’s not only the right thing to do, but our global survival ultimately depends upon it. Every drop that we use smartly helps. Every drop and every person can make a collective difference.

In our simple way, wonderful Lois and I are honoring a special symbiotic connection that we celebrate between our life sustaining water and our tiny piece of Mother Earth that we have been temporarily entrusted to be good stewards of. It’s a partnership that ultimately binds all of us together. Our planetary future depends on what we must be committed to do today.

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