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Our Water is Too Precious to Squander on Tethys’ Huge Bottling Plant

Anacortes American, Feb. 27, 2013

Niabi Drew

Anacortes, Wash.

In response to the City Council and others’ injudicious resolve to continue moving forward with the Tethys proposal, I ask that we consider the following:

Water is Earth’s most vital resource. The next world war will be over water rights. Scientists have already predicted which countries will run out of water first and the mass exodus that will follow.

Can you imagine entire countries void of human life because there is no water to support civilization there? Even if you cannot imagine it, it would be prudent to heed the warning of those that study such things.

Ironically, the latest Anacortes City Briefing was devoted entirely to water use and the importance of clean water:

“The City’s Water System supports the jobs and economy not only in Anacortes but also La Conner, Mount Vernon, Burlington, Oak Harbor, The Port of Anacortes and March’s Point, and it supports national defense by assuring water to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.”

“Notably, reliable clean water as provided by the City’s Water System is key to the success of Skagit Valley farmers. A consortium of specialists have supposedly determined that we have nothing to fear in terms of the impact of climate change and the Skagit River levels … well, at least until 2080.”

I suppose our great grandchildren don’t need clean drinking water.

Communities worldwide are investing in more sustainable practices as they recognize humanity’s headlong dive into oblivion via untempered consumption of natural resources. We can persist in gorging ourselves on Earth’s resources to our own detriment or choose self-preservation, for the benefit of all of Earth’s inhabitants.

I have lived in places where water is scarce. It is a life disconnected from nature and full of urban and industrial sprawl.

I have lived in Spokane, Wash. Spokane’s main street is an unending tract of strip malls, decrepit buildings, fast food joints and vacant lots swathed in dead grass and swirling dust. Spokane has but one source of water, a polluted river that runs through the center of town.

And yet I witnessed unabashed use of water there. Most people in Spokane water their lawns through the entire summer. Their yards remain a sinful lush green while around them the scorched earth cracks and blows away in dust storms. There is no respite from the heat of summer.

I have lived in Denver, Colo. In Denver, you cannot hear the birds for the incessant drone of traffic. The trees, most non-native and ill-suited for the high desert plains climate, grow stunted and misshapen.

Those rare few that fruit release their harvest prematurely in a desperate act of self-preservation when the water still does not come, day after day. They curl their leaves inward to protect themselves from the unceasing heat, their unsowed crop shriveling into nothingness at the base of their cracked and peeling trunks.

It is so dry, that your skin and the insides of your nostrils crack and bleed as your body’s liquid equilibrium is assaulted.

I have lived in Austin, Texas. The summer of 2011 saw almost 1,700 homes in and around the nearby community of Bastrop burn to the ground and fires raging uncurbed near Austin. We had water rationing and energy brown-outs while fire fighters battled sweltering winds that aided the inferno, a consequence of no rain for many months while temperatures soared above 100 degrees.

The farther I traveled from the Puget Sound, the more I desired to come back. In Texas I developed a keen longing to walk among damp foliage beneath towering trees. My lungs yearned for air dense with moisture and my ears for the sound of gulls and lapping water. It is only when you lose something precious that you truly understand the extent of how precious it was.

While Mayor Dean Maxwell’s vision is to revive a flagging economy, the long-term vision is to encourage the irrevocable desecration of Fidalgo Island and the resources we share with our neighboring communities, to say nothing of how it will change our way of life.

Tethys will exhaust whatever resources allocated and as an added bonus erect a vast concrete blight and create billions of tons of petroleum waste in the form of plastic bottles. Do we develop infrastructure that aids our ability to be a green, sustainable community for the next hundred years and beyond ,or do we, the citizens of Anacortes, permit a handful of people to choose to send our community back 100 years to the industrial era?

Industrial America has targeted Fidalgo Island for a facility that epitomizes the heedless practices of humankind. To permit Tethys to build near our home and sell our water is short-sighted at best, permanent, destructive and regretful at worst. I have seen the way people live in other places where water is scarce and I can tell you, Fidalgo Island is special!

The mayor says, “It seems we are once again in a crucial time, when the decisions we make today will have a very major impact on the future of our city,”(Feb. 20, Anacortes American, page 1). How right he is!

Today, I join my Anacortes neighbors in crying foul on the Tethys proposal. A few members of our community are not righteous enough to decide for us all something that will forever change the landscape and spirit of Anacortes and its neighboring communities.

The Tethys plant proposal must be put to public vote.

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