When the first Europeans landed in North America, anyone could drink from any lake, river or stream with full assurance of sparkling clean water. Millions of Native Americans drank from clean water sources for centuries.
Inside of the last 100 years, we Americans have polluted our ground water, surface water and most rivers running to the ocean suffer from horrific contamination. We have shoved hundreds of millions of smoke stacks into our skies to pollute the rain into acid rain. It descends upon the land to create acidified soils that kill nitrogen-fixing bacteria.
What doesn’t come down as acid rain, we spray thousands of chemicals into the land, air and water 24/7. We spray billions of gallons of herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers onto our foods. We humans have concocted about 80,000 chemicals to date. About two percent of those chemicals are ever tested for long term consequences.
And you wonder why 1 in 3 Americans is affected by cancer in this century?
While we pride ourselves as a nation of clean water consumers and Environmental Protection Agency supporters, most Americans don’t know the half of what they drink.
According to a new report by investigative reporter Larry West, “Public water supplies in 42 U.S. states are contaminated with 141 unregulated chemicals for which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never established safety standards, according to an investigation by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).”
Tainted Tap Water Used by Millions of Americans
“Another 119 regulated chemicals—a total of 260 contaminants altogether—were found by the environmental group in a two-and-a-half-year analysis of more than 22 million tap water quality tests,” said West. “The tests, which are required under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, were conducted at nearly 40,000 utilities that supply water to 231 million people.”
It is the major factor that caused me to buy water filters for my personal drinking water for the past 30 years. Few Americans realize that thousands of gas stations over the decades have leaked their oil and gas products into our ground water all over the nation.
Additionally, all those chemicals like Round Up and Weed-Be-Gone that you spray on your sidewalks and gardens ultimately end up in the ground water or rivers. They all travel to the oceans which are being toxified beyond comprehension.
Pollution Threatens Tap Water Quality
“According to a report by the EWG, the top 10 states with the most contaminants in their drinking water were California, Wisconsin, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Texas, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Illinois—in that order,” said West. “EWG said the biggest sources of contaminants were agriculture, industry and pollution from sprawl and urban runoff.”
Please realize that the more people that inhabit a state, the greater the contamination of their water supplies. It’s simple math. Therefore, a state like Florida with an 18 million population load today can expect to double its water contamination problems as it reaches 36 million in four decades. Additionally, Florida is running out of water as is Georgia, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
California, with 38 million and headed for 58 million people—well folks, not only will they not possess enough water; it will be horribly polluted beyond imagination. I’ve bicycled five times the length and width of California in the past 35 years and I saw more poisons being applied to the crops than rain drops in a monsoon. They’re headed for a Poison Katrina the likes that no one can imagine. The crops coming out of the Central Valley reek of chemicals.
Utilities Need More Enforceable Standards for Tap Water
When I canoed the Mississippi River eight years ago, I picked up bags and bags of trash, cans, plastics and old oil cans. I witnessed old cars pushed over the banks and into the water. People threw their couches, electrical cords, trash, garbage, paint and other furniture into the Mississippi by the thousands. I saw bags of God-knows-what emptied into Old Man River. Chemicals, gas cans and oil containers were among my daily pick up chores as I paddled downstream. It made me sick that this country is so lazy, so stupid and so apathetic that it won’t pass a 10 cent deposit-return law like Michigan’s to stop our moral and mental midget citizens from throwing their containers everywhere across the land.
It’s embarrassing that the grandest river in this country is so polluted that it features a 10,000 square mile dead zone at its mouth in New Orleans. (Source: UPI News) That means it’s so poisoned that few vertebrates can live in that dead zone. If you eat shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico, think twice before swallowing. Don’t worry, the dead zones at the mouths of the Yangtze and Ganges beat us out at 15,000 square mile zones.
In my own state of Colorado, Peter Coors spent millions to defeat our bottle-return laws (in 1974 and 1988) because it meant more profits for his company. When I wrote him and begged him to “man up for the environment,” he wrote back and told me that bottles, cans and plastic containers were only eight percent of the waste stream. When I invited him to use his $13 million annual salary to hire trucks and pick up crews to clean up that eight percent—he didn’t answer my letter. I have personally picked up a half-million pieces of trash in my life, but I cannot keep up with Coors’ legacy of generated container trash.
Additionally, Coors and his cronies are the reason for the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It’s a three million ton (60 to 90 feet thick) island of floating plastic containers the size of Texas out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and it grows by 2.5 million containers an hour. Men like Coors are the reason for it. I call him a “Pretend environmentalist.”
"Our analysis clearly demonstrates the need for greater protection of the nation's tap water supplies, and for increased health protections from a number of pollutants that are commonly found but currently unregulated." said Jane Houlihan, vice president for science at EWG, in a prepared statement. "Utilities routinely go beyond what is required to protect consumers from these contaminants, but they need more money for testing, and for protection of vital source waters."
Since contamination and pollution levels are tied to human numbers, it’s going to be interesting if not totally horrifying how we’re going to deal with adding 100 million people to this country by 2035. They’ll be throwing more chemicals into the environment than you can shake a stick at. So will our own mindless Americans—so it will be even more filth across this once pristine continent.
As I often paint a picture of our future, I expose the little things that add up to the big things. Are we in trouble or what?