Monday, February 8, 2010

Social Justice Challenge - WATER

This month's topic for the Social Justice Challenge is Water. Several questions were presented to us related to the topic --

1. What is the first thought that comes to your mind when you think of water as a social justice issue?

I think of women in Africa that must walk for miles every day just to get water for their families. I think of men, women and children living in Bangladesh who drown because of inadequate infrastructure to deal with monsoon floods. I think of those dependent on water sources contaminated with chemicals, sewage, etc. I think the people who suffer from water issues, whether it be too little or too much, are those with the least economic resources.

2. What exposure, if any, have you personally had to a water shortage?

I live in the community surrounding Lake Lanier, a WPA project of the 1930s designed to dam the Chattahoochee River to create a hydroelectric power plant, a steady water supply for Atlanta and North Georgia and a recreational lake.

The summer of 2007 brought a severe drought to the Southern US and Georgia was particularly hard hit. Lake Lanier, already low from years of sub-average rainfall and the over release of water through the dam, became dangerously low -- at one point, holding only a 30 supply of water with no rain in sight. We had been on water restrictions before, but now they became more strict and more important than ever before. In a community built on revenue from the recreational activities of the lake, the economic impact was severe as well. Our restaurant was hit hard - we depended on people picking up food to take to the lake every weekend. That business virtually stopped as did my husband's paycheck. With lower water levels, came lower power levels as well. We experienced more that afew "brown outs" and were advised to stagger high electricity usage throughout the day. Water was being pulled from the very bottom of the lake and the water coming into our home was nasty - full of Georgia red clay, we had to boil it at one point. The clothes I washed were tinged red. We installed a filter system where the water comes into the house and had to change the filter weekly. We truly began to appreciate clean and reliable water.

This in no way compares with the water issues other countries face, but it is my story and it really made me look at water in a different way.

3. What potential action steps can you think of that relate to this month's theme of WATER?

Since the drought we have taken many steps to conserve water. I NEVER run the dishwasher or washing machine unless there is a full load. We bought a rain barrel last summer to use to water potted flowers and the vegetable garden. We will probably buy another one this summer. I only water the garden at night so more water will be absorbed and not evaporated. I am looking for more suggestions to help conserve more water.

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