Gallery C

Self-Destruction Going On
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The Insanity Of Destroying Our Fresh Water

By James Donahue

My wife and I chose to buy our retirement home on Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula because it is surrounded by fresh water. The peninsula juts north out into Lake Superior. Not many miles to our south is Lake Michigan. And to the east is Lake Huron.
There was method in our madness. While we are ravaged by the winter storms that sweep our area, and we are dependent on the trucking of much of our food from warmer climates, we are enjoying some of the best and purist fresh water left anywhere in the world.
The lakes near us are but three of the five Great Lakes, which collectively hold the largest body of fresh water left on the planet. After living in Arizona where big corporations like the Peabody Coal Company are sucking dry the massive underlying reservoir of fresh water just to slide strip mined coal through long slushes to company power plants that supply most of the electricity used in Southern California, and reading horror stories about the industrial waste, huge droughts, floods and storms that are destroying most other natural water supplies, we chose the last good and abundant water supply to be found anywhere.

Our belief was backed the an agreement between the states bordering the Great Lakes and the Canadian government, known as the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact of 1985, and its annex of 2001 which gives states the power to manage how the water of the lakes can be used and protected. We believed the agreement would protect the Great Lakes from the ravages of big industry.

Now we read a statement by James Weakley, president of the Lake Carrier’s Association, who warns: “Lake Michigan water is being shipped by boat loads over to China. By using a little known loophole in the 2006 Great Lakes Compact, Obama minions are allowing Nestle Company to export precious fresh water out of Lake Michigan to the tune of an estimated $500,000 to $1.8 million per day profit.”

Nestle, which sells various popular brands of drinking water in small plastic containers, found in gasoline stations, party stores and grocery stores everywhere, is selling Lake Michigan water under the brand name Ice Mountain.
How can anybody do this? It seems that there was an effort to stop Nestle from its operations on Lake Michigan and the case ended up in court, where a judge ordered the pumping of lake water to cease. But then an appellate court overturned the ruling and the company came to an agreement.

This agreement, dubbed the “bottled-water loophole,” hinges on wording in the compact that bans removing water from the lakes in containers greater than 5.7 gallons. The authors of the compact were thinking of truck tankers or piping the water. The ban does not mention bottled water. Thus Nestle is sucking water from the lakes at its Mecosta facility and pouring it in bottles which are sold commercially around the world. And to date, they are getting away with it.

And there is more bad news.

Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who co-chairs the Council of Great Lakes Governors that exists to preserve the Great Lakes, approved a controversial plan by a Canadian company to open a sulfide mine near Marquette, near Lake Superior in 2012. In spite of protests by conservationists and the local Native American tribes, construction of the mine is moving ahead. Sulfide mines drain acid poisons into the local water system and this mine has the potential of dumping poison into the most pristine of all the Great Lakes. To date it is one of the few lakes where fish can be safely caught and eaten without the risk of mercury or other industrial poisonings. This may not be the case after this mine goes into production. (But the mine will offer jobs to a job-starved local economy.)

We remember British Petroleum (BP) because of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed 11 workers and dumped 206 million gallons of crude oil that devastated the coastline, wrecked commercial fishing, and put thousands of workers out of their jobs.

While all of this was making headlines, British Petroleum spilled 1,600 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan from its refinery at Whiting, Indiana. To date the company has never paid for the cleanup of this mess even though it was a clear violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

These are among the worst of the various plants that are still dumping chemicals and other toxins into the lakes. While the Environmental Protection Agency has been using state and federal laws to contain much of the industrial waste, and launch clean-up efforts, there is still pesticide and fertilizer runoff from the farms.
In short, humans are recklessly and thoughtlessly destroying the last great reservoirs of clean drinking water on Earth. The human body is composed of about 65 percent water. We all need water to live. In fact, we can all go longer without food than we can water to stay alive. Yet we treat water like it is a natural commodity that we will always have flowing from our taps.

Big corporations are already buying up natural water rights to some of the best sources of fresh spring water in the world. The day is soon coming when bottled water will be our only source of fresh water. And you can be assured that we will pay dearly for every drop.