Troubled Waters

Our Precious Freshwater Supplies Are Shrinking

Virtually all water, atmospheric water vapor and soil moisture presently gracing the Earth has been perpetually recycled through billions of years of evaporation, condensation and precipitation. As all living things are composed of mostly water and thus a part of this cycle, we may be drinking the same water that a Tyrannosaurus Rex splashed in 68 million years ago, along with what was poured into Cleopatra’s bath.

Perhaps this mythological sense of water’s endlessness or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration images from outer space of a blue planet nearly three-quarters covered by water makes us complacent. Yet only 2.5 percent of Earth’s water is not salt water and of sufficient quality to be consumable by humans, plants and animals.

Vulnerable to the demands of humanity’s unprecedented population explosion, careless development and toxic pollution and other contamination, we must reexamine this precious resource. Sandra Postel, founder of the Global Water Policy Project, who has studied freshwater issues for more than 30 years, says, “Communities, farmers and corporations are asking what we really need the water for, whether we can meet that need with less, and how water can be better managed [through] ingenuity and ecological intelligence, rather than big pumps, pipelines, dams and canals.”

Seeking to reclaim lost ground in the protection of our water and wetland resources, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the 2015 Clean Water Rule. The new regulations are needed to restore the strength to the 1972 Clean Water Act that has been weakened by the courts and previous administrations.

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