A Hard Swallow

Spring is here, a time when many American suburbanites pull out
their sprinklers and douse their lawns with clean, potable water.
But in much of the world, drinking water shortages are reaching
critical proportions.
that one out of every five people live on less water
per day than it takes to flush a toilet. Scientists are predicting
that a
water crisis will come very soon
, but for some Americans, it’s
already here.

In East Texas, along County Road 329, residents were told back
in 2003 that the water from their local wells was unsafe for
consumption. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been
delivering water rations to the area since last year, but according

Lisa Sorg of The San Antonio Current
, many believe
this situation is unsustainable.

The African-American residential area of CR 329 exists in a
veritable no-man’s land for state water suppliers. ‘CR 329 is in
the middle of two public water suppliers,’ says the Rev. David
Hudson, ‘but we can’t get service from either.’ Water wells were
the primary source of water for the area, but studies detected
unsafe levels of hazardous chemicals such as benzene, barium, and
petroleum hydrocarbons making the water unsuitable to drink or even
bathe in. ‘When I take a bath in it, it burns,’ says resident
Earnestene Roberson.

Hudson and other local activists believe that neighboring oil
facilities are polluting the water. Crude oil extraction creates a
noxious saltwater by-product that oil companies often dispose of in
special wells. In many states, such as Louisiana, there are
regulations prohibiting having these saltwater-disposal wells
within 500 feet of residential areas. Sorg reports that no such
regulations exist in Texas. According to Hudson, ‘They can’t put
this stuff in Louisiana so they bring it over here.’

Excessively polluted drinking water is becoming a problem for
rural areas across the United States, but rather than going through
the costly procedures of cleaning up the water, the EPA is now
trying to change the regulations. According to the

National Resources Defense Council
(NRDC), the EPA ignored its
own expert panel’s suggestions on how to clean up many of the
toxins found in rural drinking water. Instead, under intense
pressure from the Bush administration, the EPA has proposed a
policy change to allow up to three times the current levels of
acceptable toxins in the tap water flowing through rural areas and
small towns. The NRDC believes this would create a ‘two-tiered
drinking water system in America,’ robbing potable water from
people who cannot pay for it. The NRDC is calling for help
petitioning representatives to reject these measures, and a
decision is expected by the end of May. In the meantime, the NRDC’s
sentiments have echoed the words of CR 329 resident David Hudson.
‘Clean drinking water,’ he says, ‘should be a human right.’

Go there >>

Not A Drop To Drink

Go there too >>

Don’t Let the Bush Administration Allow More Toxins in Our Drinking

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