While developing an Earth Day lecture for my local community college, I realized that one of the coolest projects I worked on in the past had come full circle and was a portion of the content of my lecture. I was compiling a list of local water treatment facilities (local water authority groups) using Beaver Lake water and remembered working in the early-mid 1990’s on what was called the “Two Ton Loop” project – a 70+ mile proposed pipeline which would convey treated Beaver Lake water to rural parts of Benton and Washington Counties, Northwest Arkansas.
It was definitely a “over hill and dale” experience with lots of cross-country hiking while assessing the impacts to Waters of the U.S. and identifying potential endangered species habitat, along with looking for karst geological formations. The project was going to eliminate the need for private wells in the counties and improve the quality of their drinking water.
Deep in the project details at the time, I did not appreciate the significance of the work, until I began to synthesize the history of Northwest Arkansas’ drinking water sources and their development, in light of the recent Flint, Michigan, water debacle. From my recollection, the group originally called the 'Benton/Washington County Water Association' was a diverse assemblage of local farmers, homeowners, and business men. The effort to accomplish the project took an even larger group of people: engineers, environmental consultants, endangered species specialists, archaeologists, real estate deed and title specialists, surveyors, government agency employees, and on, and on, and on… Taking years to accomplish, the endeavor was complex and required a dogged focus on the goal to complete.
It made me realize how easy it is to take for granted the vision and leadership of (past and current) community leaders, municipal employees, and volunteers trying to insure that our homes, both rural and urban, have clean drinking water. Yet, with the tragedy of Flint, Michigan unfolding before us, we must realize that for the reality of clean drinking water to continue, everyone must shoulder their part!
The usual “calls to action” focus on water conservation-
“If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.”
But today, I want to challenge everyone with a NEW call to action.
So go out today and let your appreciation be known to those fighting the good fight for YOUR clean drinking water! Send a thankful email to your municipal water utility; shake the hand of your local water lab analyst; send out a grateful message with #waterwarriors; donate money to the watershed alliances and conservation groups in your area.
Support those on the front lines of our water quality issues! #waterwarriors