, Corbin, KY


May 13, 2013

Water everywhere but where’s a drop to drink?

CORBIN — Besides three water wells, there was a spring on our family farm. Clean untreated drinking water was abundant in my youth. One well had the best taste, another was the coldest. It was always such a treat on a hot summer day to get down on our belly to put our mouth in the cool, clear water flowing at our farm spring. This drink usually required a shooing away of frogs, tadpoles and a crayfish or two. Although snakes were in surrounding rocks and vegetation, they stayed out of the water because it was too cold for them.

The well-water on our farm was heavily laced with lime since our soil had a limestone base. My mother’s tea kettle had a thick, hard and white inner coating of lime minerals. “Hard water” was the term given to such water. This water from the depth of the earth (well and spring) was excellent drinking water.

 Having left the family farm over 60 years ago, many jolting changes meet my eyes as I visit my brother there. The farm’s several out-buildings have fallen in, and the once-fertile garden has grown up in weeds (my brother, even more advanced in years than me, can no longer tend a garden).

However the biggest jolt visiting that old family farm was not caught by my eyes. It was the discovery that my brother had to bring in “city water;” that the spring and all the wells were no longer drinkable; that all the underground aquifers were now contaminated.

How can it be? What has caused this pollution deep in the earth? To answer the question I looked around the country-side. Some nine new houses have infiltrated what used to be farm land. They all have sewage septic tanks and bleeder fields.

This reminds me of my grandfather telling of his 19th century youth — all water everywhere was drinkable; even open creeks. Never did he or I ever think the time would come when we would need to buy water for drinking.

Today we face two ever-escalating world water problems: 1) population growth requiring more fresh water and 2) a corresponding contamination of fresh water through radical ecological disturbances.

This grave water problem is not just an ecological issue; it is a serious moral one; preserving drinkable water for our children.

“The Lord your God is bringing you into a good land with flowing streams, with springs and underground water….” [Deut. 8:7] Yes, God has. By his grace, in reverence and gratitude, may we rectify our polluting ways; that our children may have a drop to drink.

The Rev. John Burkhart  Ph.D, is a retired Episcopal priest and professor of  psychology blog at inspirationsandideas

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