Is water a commodity or is it a fundamental right of every person, since without clean, accessible water, life is miserable and very short indeed? The League of Women Voters of Texas has a position on water and this year we are studying the impact of water as a commodity. Since the study is still in progress, I won't say anything more about it. However, the fact that the issue has to be studied at all should be a concern to all of us. The League of Women Voters of Wichita Falls also has a position on water that is specific to our area and has periodic programs on the subject. Watch for announcements if you want to attend--the meetings are always open to the public.
Since we treat food as a commodity, it should be no surprise that we treat water the same way. In other words, water is a product that is exchanged for money, unless you happen to have control over the resource and are the person selling it. The scarcity and cleanliness of water is a huge concern throughout the world. It has caused wars and will likely spur more conflict in the years to come as water resources are polluted and the limited resources subject to greater demand as population rises and our standard of living rises.
But as in many large, complex issues, most of us can have the biggest impact locally.
Here in Texas, where the population is rising very fast indeed and water resources are scarce, water is a subject every citizen needs to be informed about. The City of Wichita Falls has done a lot to ensure water sufficient clean water for the next 40+ years. They have been farsighted in their approach to building infrastructure (although there has been a lot of fussing from citizens about the water rates needed to pay the bonds for this infrastructure.) However, we can do more in terms of encouraging water conservation. There has been some debate about conservation as there is currently "plenty" of water and less water use means the rates for water have to be raised to pay for maintaining the supply capability. The City does have a water conservation tip sheet on line. The Red River Authority has a tip sheet available as well, although I couldn't find the information on line.
Sometimes you do the right thing because it is the right thing. And we should be developing habits and processes in preparation for the future, when we are certain our water supplies won't be sufficient. So what can each of us do about ensuring adequate supplies of clean water for the future?
- Be frugal in your water use at home. Fix leaks and as you replace fixtures and appliances, consider low water use items.
- Have less lawn and replace it with native, drought tolerant plants. For the grass areas, consider grasses that need less water and fewer chemicals. Water less often. Water at night or early morning.
- Consider rainwater harvesting for your landscape/gardening needs.
- Eat lower on the food chain more often. The higher up the foodchain you go, the more water there is involved in the production of the food. Need suggestions? The local Sierra Club chapter just finished a meat-less cookbook that will be on sale soon.
- Reduce your use of chemicals that pollute our water.
- Pay attention to water issues in your community. The Region B Water Planning Board is responsible for water planning in our area. Watch for notices of upcoming meetings and public hearings. Participate in the process.
Water should be a concern to all of us and little changes can make a difference.