Friday, February 19, 2016

Don't dilute water quality

Please send the last handful of climate change deniers to Minnesota right now, where they can observe rain in the middle of February! In Minnesota! REALLY? Liquid water? Minnesota? February?

Sunrise River, tributary to the St. Croix
Photo by J. Harrington

Dick Osgood, with whom I worked years ago when we were both on the staff of the Twin Cities Metro Council, has a "Local View" that was published in the Duluth News Tribune back at the end of January and that I just came across today. I generally agree with much of his reasoning, but not all of it. We pretty much align on the magnitude and source of the problems of Minnesota's, and the country's, water quality problems. I would suggest, however, that we need a more rigorous, much more rigorous, approach to making improvements. How many of you were taught by your parents about the necessity of learning to clean up after yourselves?

Agriculture has been a free rider for too long. We keep treating environmental protection as an optional "externality" that may be too expensive for agriculture, or mining, or public water supplies like Flint's, to pay for. There's a better way if all water users pay what's needed to discharge water that supports the basic designated uses we all agree on, charge what's needed for their products (water quality becomes a cost of production), and subsidize those who need but can't afford such food or potable water or cell phones or transportation, but we stop subsidizing polluters. It's a game we'll never win. We can distinguish between agriculture that is industrial, producing row crops instead of local food stocks. We're learning to do that already with our food systems becoming local, organic and fair trade. It's time we face up to the fact that there is no readily available Planet B and, like good children everywhere, we need to pick up after ourselves or no one will want to play with us.

In many ways, the issue of water too expensive to clean up is little different than banks that are "too big too fail," schools that are too expensive or don't educate, or, reaching way back in my memory banks, cars that are "unsafe at any speed." We must accept the fact that someone, and it should be us, needs to pay for our free lunches. Take some time, visit the Donella Meadows Institute's web site and read about sources and sinks and related matters. Then see if my reasoning makes sense. It's no different than discovering that, to minimize the catastrophic effects of climate change, we need to leave about 80% of the fossil fuels in the ground. We could even reason that Congress anticipated such constraints with the passage of the 1972 Clean Water Act amendments when they enacted this requirement:
For any body of water with designated uses that do not include “fishable/swimmable” target use that is identified in section 101(a)(2) of CWA, a Use Attainability Analysis must be conducted. Every three years, such bodies of water must be reexamined in order to verify if new information is available that demand a revision of the standard. If new information is available that specify “fishable/swimmable” uses can be attained, then the use must be designated.[11]
There are existing standards and procedures to be followed if a state wishes to establish that a water quality designated use can't be attained. Minnesota already has a list of limited resource value waters. I don't think we should add to it, do you?

Early Occult Memory Systems of the Lower Midwest

By B. H. Fairchild

In his fifth year the son, deep in the backseat   
of his father’s Ford and the mysterium
of time, holds time in memory with words,
night, this night, on the way to a stalled rig south   
of Kiowa Creek where the plains wind stacks   
the skeletons of weeds on barbed-wire fences   
and rattles the battered DeKalb sign to make   
the child think of time in its passing, of death.

Cattle stare at flat-bed haulers gunning clumps   
of black smoke and lugging damaged drill pipe   
up the gullied, mud-hollowed road. Road, this   

road. Roustabouts shouting from the crow’s nest   
float like Ascension angels on a ring of lights.   
Chokecherries gouge the purpled sky, cloud-
swags running the moon under, and starlight   
rains across the Ford’s blue hood. Blue, this blue.


Later, where black flies haunt the mud tank,   
the boy walks along the pipe rack dragging
a stick across the hollow ends to make a kind   
of music, and the creek throbs with frog songs,   
locusts, the rasp of tree limbs blown and scattered.   
The great horse people, his father, these sounds,   
these shapes saved from time’s dark creek as the car   
moves across the moving earth: world, this world.