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Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on what we should be grateful for. 

In addition to family, friends, and our wonderful way of life–we can be thankful for nature’s balance. 

Disaster may strike one day–say the recent cyclone that hit Bangladesh–but we have many days of perfect “bluebird” weather.  In one part of the country we may have a serious drought, but in another we get the perfect conditions for bunker crops.

Nature gives us a balance of people and personalities too.  I might get frustrated with those who are a little too radical in their quest to help the environment.  But we need them to offset those whose only thought is profit, and who would eradicate a species without a thought if it meant a better bottom-line.

I don’t think we need to stop using cars or go back to hanging our clothes out to dry to save the earth.  But we should all try to do the little things that add up to conserving precious resources.  Turn out the lights when we leave the room.  Use the low setting on the washer when we have a small load.  Recycle if that option’s available.

You don’t have to go to the Amazon jungle or the Blue Ridge Mountains to appreciate the natural world.  Just go out in your back yard, look and listen.  Even in New York you can feed the pigeons–and appreciate nature’s balance.

I’ve been reading about the continuing drama caused by boil water orders in West Palm Beach.  About 6 weeks ago, a 10-day boil order, issued after the water tested positive for fecal coliform, resulted in some serious loss of business in the area.  Restaurants are especially hard hit.  Starbucks had to lock their doors, since their entire system is fed strictly by the public water supply.  Though a local linen service was blamed for the incident at the time, other questions are now arising after an improperly abandoned pipe was found at the water treatment plant.

Investigations continue, and newspaper reports state that a private company, U.S. Water Systems, is now running the plant and reporting directly to the Health Department and the Mayor–bypassing staff. 

Though I haven’t done a thorough job of researching the issue, I do know from years of experience in this business, that with a century old plant (and water distribution system) that chemically treats surface water–problems are bound to happen.  News reports noted that the water plant manager with 30+ years of experience has been placed on a leave of absence.  This was precipitated by another boil water notice over the weekend, a result of a plant operator shutting the wrong valve during an inspection and dropping the pressure in the system.

I doubt that the plant staff are incompetent.  Based on the age of the system, I doubt there are as-built drawings which could easily explain the turning of a wrong valve. 

Funding of drastically needed improvements to the plant and the system must come from the elected officials–water must be a priority.  All too often, critical infrastructure takes a back seat to other “important” projects–beautification, new city buildings, and other nice but not really necessary items.  The money doesn’t get channeled where it really needs to go until major problems start to rear their ugly heads. 

Of course, the staff does have to shoulder some of the blame.  Their job should be to educate their elected officials so the politicians can make informed decisions.  Education might be difficult in some cases–you can’t inform someone who doesn’t want to hear what you have to say.  But every effort should have been made to let those who have the purse strings know the situation.

Regardless, it sounds like the water system in West Palm needs major work, and has for a long time.  Whether they fire the entire staff and have the private company report only to the health department and mayor or not . . . the problems aren’t going to vanish until someone puts some money into the water system.

Water wars are all over the news lately.  Parts of Georgia are running out of drinkable water because of the drought, bringing a years-long argument with Florida to a head.  Meanwhile in Florida, a controversial plan to take water from the St. Johns River to feed thirsty central Florida, home of Disney World and a host of other tourist attractions, is getting some folks up in arms.  Water issues like these are always emotional.

“Don’t take my drinking water for your shell fish.”  “Your poor planning is no reason to steal my water.”  These sentiments run rampant in the media.  Those who want to get involved or take a stand need to study the issue at hand.  Often, there are technical complexities, and a lot of information that isn’t reported in the local newspaper. 

I see water wars becoming more prevalent.  Not that we’re really running out of water.  We’re just running out of water that doesn’t cost much to treat.  We’ve taken it for granted too long, but it won’t be undervalued much longer.

Welcome to Logical Ecology.  I’m not the Skeptical Environmentalist like Bjorn Lomborg, though I’m currently reading his book, Cool It  The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming.  But I do believe we should use logic in our efforts to “save the earth.”  I’ve been in the water industry for over half my life, so that will be my focus.  But I might have something to say about related environmental issues.

I’d like to hear your opinions, ideas, and information also. 

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