The documentary film “We are Water” was recently shown as part of the Door County “Celebrate Water” series of events. As this excellent movie winds down, numerous tips or suggestions regarding personal water conservation roll down the screen. They range from turning off the water when you brush your teeth or shave, only running the dishwasher when full, using drip irrigation rather than sprinkling your garden, showering with a friend, not buying bottled water, and so on. These and others are good ideas which I am sure many of us already practice. Taking personal and daily water use responsibility is important.
Another important, if not essential step in water quality protection and conservation was overlooked however. That is the responsibility and opportinity we have as citizens in a democracy, to “connect the dots”. How are we as a society, a community, an economy going to preserve and protect water for the future? Will turning off the faucet while brushing our teeth really do the job? Or do we need policies, initiatives, regulations, research, technological innovations and such to actually protect water?
Are we “Celebrating Water” by weakening the EPA, or by firing scientists in the DNR? By proposing funding cuts to, if to not the elimination of the Great Lakes Funding Initiative, are we protecting the Great Lakes? By allowing the “Back Forty Mine” to potentially destroy the fish population of the Bay of Green Bay are we being good stewards? Are we protecting our precious groundwater by slow walking CAFO regulations?
We need to connect the dots between who we vote for, who we elect to public office and our values. We need to take personal responsibility to be informed on the relationships between public policy and hard reality. We need to connect the dots between what is going on in our rivers, lakes, ground water, and drinking water and who is passing the laws that control those resources. Then we need to vote accordingly. Otherwise we are headed toward the day memorialized in the old saying (and I paraphrase here) that we won’t miss the water until the DNR and the EPA are gone. We must connect the dots while we shower with a friend and collect rain water for our gardens. It Is time to put our votes where our hopes, needs and values are. If we really want to “Cebrate Water” we need to use “The Sytem” to protect it. The polluters and water abusers use it to their advantage, we can too. Let’s connect the dots between water quality, public policy, and elected officials.