Clean water has always been a rare commodity throughout parts of the world, but in recent years America has begun to find itself on the verge of losing this commodity of clean and reliable drinking water.
Due to an old and crumbling infrastructure that seems to be neglected and ignored, the fossil fuel industry’s gross obsession with pipelines, to record drought, the once privileged resource that is both essential to life and life’s sustainability is becoming absent or contaminated with harsh chemicals and heavy metals.
The decline in water, with no end in sight, is a reality traveling across America, and as the value and need for such a precious resource becomes more dire, the need to monopolize and privatize becomes survival of the fittest, or of the richest.
Today, in America, water as a commodity holds the same luxury as gold, and as water becomes more sought after, like gold, it becomes more valuable.
Like the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation of North Dakota, whose people are in an all-out war against the fossil fuel industry building the Dakota Access Pipeline which would run through their water supply, creating threats of contamination.
But the fossil fuel industry is only enemy number one in the attempt to categorize water as America’s 21st century liquid gold.
Flint, Michigan is a city where many of its residents live below the poverty line and most have lived without reliable drinking water for nearly three years. The city is seen as a harbinger of things to come for the future of America.
Residents, who are already struggling to make ends meet, survive off of bottled water, as a cocktail of lead and bacteria continues to flow from their faucets into their homes and places of work.
Although the hardest hit, Flint isn’t the only city across America dealing with a rapid decline in water quality due to poor decisions and a decaying infrastructure.
Water samples from cities across the country have tested positive for contaminants, ranging from lead, and bacteria, to industrial chemicals and pollutants, known to cause health issues and even death.
The re-conditioning of America’s broken infrastructure will take years, but at what cost and to who?
Will it happen within enough time to spare America’s water system from total devastation?
Climate change is the third enemy to our threatened water supply.
And as record temperatures create historic droughts, water is disappearing at a more alarming rate each year.
With the lack of water comes increased regulations and higher costs, all for a commodity that should be free as a human right.
The shift began to take shape during California’s prolonged drought, where penalties for violation of water restrictions were issued.
Without a clean and abundant water supply, more people will face water insecurities, either because it’s too expensive or too toxic to drink.
If anything, human beings are waking up to how important clean water is, how valuable it is, as they fight to protect their water supply from intruders foreign and domestic.
But the future of clean and affordable water looks grim from all aspects. Although the fight has just begun, Flint and Standing Rock are a glimpse into the future and the road we are headed down.
And that is a future where reliable clean water is sparse and becoming a rare commodity that is fought over, bought and sold, as America’s 21st century liquid gold.
Michael Santone is an associate editor of The Advocate. Contact him at [email protected]