Friday, July 24, 2015

How you live -- Down the drain

We're up to question five in our bioregional quiz. Before we get to it, please skim through the quotation below from the essay Interpreting Bioregionalism in M. V. McGinnis' Bioregionalism anthology. It provides background on why I think a bioregional perspective is increasingly important to a sustainable future for Minnesota.
Bioregional world-view
  • Widespread social and ecological crises exist; without fundamental change preservation of biodiversity, including survival of the human species, is in doubt.
  • The root cause of these threats is the inability of the nation-state and industrial capitalism—patriarchal, machine-based civilization rising from the scientific revolution—to measure progress in terms other than those related to monetary wealth, economic efficiency or centralized power.
  • Sustainability—defined as equitably distributed achievement of social, ecological and economic quality of life—is better gained within a more decentralized structure of governance and development.
  • The bioregion—a territory revealed by similarities of biophysical and cultural phenomenon—offers a scale of decentralization best able to support the achievement of cultural and ecological sustainability.

Sunrise River Pool 1
Sunrise River Pool 1
Photo by J. Harrington
So, with that taken care of, here's the question and answer:

Where does your water go when it goes down the drain?

We live on more than five acres in the Sunrise River watershed. We have indoor plumbing. Our rural location makes public water supply and wastewater treatment economically infeasible, so our water goes down the drain to a septic tank and then into a drain field. That's the short answer, but it's as accurate as thinking that our food comes from grocery stores and restaurants and fast food outlets. From our drainfield, our water flows into a surficial groundwater system. A quick Internet search on Chisago County groundwater flow brought up a report [Lake to Groundwater Interaction Study] with this bit of information: "The Palen study determined that the dominant shallow groundwater flow direction in the Chisago Lakes area is north-northwest toward the Sunrise River, with localized deflections towards lakes and other topographic depressions." Based on that information and our location, I'm going to make a small leap of faith that our groundwater eventually flows to the Sunrise River which then flows to the St. Croix River, the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The long answer to where our water goes when it goes down the drain is to the Gulf of Mexico.

St. Croix River, Franconia
St. Croix River, Franconia
Photo by J. Harrington


By Allen Ginsberg 
Homage Kenneth Koch 
If I were doing my Laundry I’d wash my dirty Iran
I’d throw in my United States, and pour on the Ivory Soap, scrub up Africa, put all the birds and elephants back in the jungle,
I’d wash the Amazon river and clean the oily Carib & Gulf of Mexico,   
Rub that smog off the North Pole, wipe up all the pipelines in Alaska,   
Rub a dub dub for Rocky Flats and Los Alamos, Flush that sparkly Cesium out of Love Canal
Rinse down the Acid Rain over the Parthenon & Sphinx, Drain Sludge out of the Mediterranean basin & make it azure again,
Put some blueing back into the sky over the Rhine, bleach the little Clouds so snow return white as snow,
Cleanse the Hudson Thames & Neckar, Drain the Suds out of Lake Erie   
Then I’d throw big Asia in one giant Load & wash out the blood & Agent Orange,
Dump the whole mess of Russia and China in the wringer, squeeze out the tattletail Gray of U.S. Central American police state,
& put the planet in the drier & let it sit 20 minutes or an Aeon till it came out clean.

Boulder, April 26, 1980

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