Water, Water, Everywhere…

by Tony Bishop on July 28, 2005

I am in the throes of compiling over 500 (now 1000 08-2010) quotations and aphorisms on fishing, fishermen, rivers, sea, boats and the whole damn thing, to go on my website. One particular quote has been rattling around the dark recesses of my mind and it won’t seem to go away – “If you want to know the priorities of a nation and the effectiveness of their government, test their water quality.” – Jim Slinsky.

It is just so simple a judgement. Water is absolutely fundamental to human life that anything that reduces or contaminates this precious resource, contaminates our very existence. Yet all of us who fish in rivers, streams, lakes, or ponds are confronted on each trip with the clear, irrefutable evidence of of the harm we are doing to our water supplies.

Rubbish in the water, on the banks, on the foreshore. Run-off from farms containing fertiliser and animal excrement that feeds explosive growth in weed, choking streams, rivers and lakes, growth that alters natures balance. Industrial waste literally poisoning the water supply. The cutting down of native trees to make way for pine forests, poisoning the water with tannin and chemical fertilisers. Allowing the use of weed killing chemicals in catchment areas adding more poison to the system. Allowing the “development” of lake foreshores – too often leading to waste products leaching into the water – “development” indeed, bah and humbug!

Many Governments, local and national, claim that it is economically unfeasible to police contamination of waterways, except in the instances of gross pollution. One could hope that these same Governments could explain the economic gains that might be made by spending money on making water fit to drink.

Unfortunately the problem is growing exponentially. Water quality around the world is declining at an ever increasing rate – the cost of processing that water to make it drinkable is also increasing at an ever upward spiralling rate. How long will it be for Governments abrogate their accountabilities altogether and leave it up to households to treat their own drinking water, or buy it in bottled form? This unpalatable fact is now very wide-spread around the world.

So why has this quote struck such a chord in me? I guess it is because the simplicity of the notion reveals, to me at least, how far the people who govern us have retreated from the notions of governing in the best interests of the people, for the good of the people – and how far they have retreated from any concern over the basics that determine our well-being at the most fundamental level, the water we drink and the air we breath.

But then of course the famous ‘they’, the Government, is us. That sad fact whacks me around the ears just thinking about it!

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