Hey there, I recently went to a lecture given by Dr. Rivers from the Charleston County Water and Sewer division. I did not get any pictures, however I wrote this summary from the lecture, and found it relevant to class because we are always talking about how to live sustainably, and be mindful of our water use above all else.
I learned that access to water is an enormous issue, in general. Dr. Rivers went onto explain that water is life- no if, ands, or buts about it. Water is, always has been and always will be, life. I will begin to explain the multiple reasons why Dr. Rivers preaches about how important our water supply is, and how easily we take it for granted.
Dr. Rivers started out by emphasizing the importance of our history of water through President Nixon and the Clean Water Act, and even how we have moved from the EPA to State DHEC to local water companies to ensure clean water at every step of the way. He mentions how important the standards, that have developed over time, are and how having multiple reinforcement stages for clean water helps implement and enforce the following of those standards. He also went into detail about how detrimental not following those clean water standards can be to our national health: 842,000 people die per year and 2,000 people die per day due to lack of clean water, and sometimes water in general. I really appreciated how Dr. Rivers gave the perspective of how big the issue actually is; I believe this helped the audience really understand the magnitude of not having access to clean water.
Rivers mentioned something that was extremely interesting to me, and that was environmental justice and the global water crisis. He mentioned how in low income counties, or even states, the lack of access to water is incredible; more specifically in minorities and reservations. Not only is lack of access to water an issue, so is illegal dumping which brings about chemicals and hazardous material in the water source. There are acts and committees in place to help avoid these situations, but there are not enough resources to prevent this illegal dumping 100%, leaving individuals having no choice but to consume hazardous water. In addition, this has been happening globally, but especially across the United States. We have seen the Flint, Michigan water crisis involving lead happening for years now, and there is still no solution. Rivers mentioned how terrible our water supply will become if we let money control the way we source our water. In addition, we see a crisis between Georgia, Alabama, and Florida on who can draw what water from where, and what will eventually happen to that water supply. Dr. Rivers really emphasized here how we need to be environmentally and socially just, and ensure a clean water supply to everyone and anyone.
One major topic Rivers touched on was bioterrorism and the Homeland Security Act. He was a major advocate for preventing the hacking of our water system. I was not a major advocate for this, but he really educated me on the topic. Rivers mentioned this: “If another country wanted to harm us, say Russia, what better way to knock out a mass population and cause major harm than hacking our water supply?” I couldn’t agree more. We have set ourselves up, because our water source is so easily penetrable by the common man, let alone a highly trained terrorist who knows exactly what they are doing.
This bioterrorism threat relates directly into the infrastructure of our water systems here in the United States. This was probably River’s main argument of how our water supply is life, and what major issue threatens that need. The overall rating for water and sewer from the MET standard was a very low D+. This is absolutely terrible simply due to the fact of emergencies. Rivers was very clear when he mentioned how storms such as Hurricane Matthew detrimentally affect our water pipes, and in turn leave us with no water for a few days. He also mentioned how important it was for state’s to expand their budget each year for emergencies, and to prepare when they have to replace large amounts of water and sewer pipes that need to be upgraded. Overall, I do believe this was Rivers’ main argument on how water is life, and what issues we are actually facing in regards to water.
To summarize Dr. Rivers’ speech, he really emphasized the importance of being informed. Informed on the environmental, social, and economical aspects of water access and maintaining a healthy water access. He reiterated the fact that access to water is NOT a race-gender issue. It is a structural issue that we need to advocate for and address, before it is too late. We can advocate via fundraising, raising awareness, and most importantly through policy. Policy will educate and inform, while locking in the “do’s and don’ts” to ensure safe water and safe water for years to come.