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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Camp Meeker News December 2009

I guess I know what to write about this time. It was a fairly big deal learning that our drinking water was not entirely safe, and a pretty stressful week it was. At this point I hang my head in shame and confess that I was, um, out of town that week. Yep, I had just made the big used-truck score on a sweet ’04 Tacoma with - get this – 12,000 miles on her. And unbeknownst to me, the sweet mag rims that earned me many dude points among the Truck Guys at work (and lo, they are legion). A score like that merits a few days of hitting the road “Easy Rider” style and, y’know, Finding America. And a gorgeous America it is if you drive in leisurely fashion up the Oregon coast as I did on two sparkling and crisp blue sky autumn days. When I arrived in Tacoma with my Tacoma, it was gray and rainy as per standard Puget Sound procedure, but the un-damage had been done. I am a happy man.

But back to the late unpleasantness in Damp Sneaker. It was, if Brock Dolman will pardon my pun, a watershed moment. If you have been reading up on global events, you know that fresh potable water (and the looming lack thereof) is one of the four horsemen that are riding down on this world in this most interesting century. The other three being peak oil, climate change, and encroaching wifi. I kid, I kid. Writing that sentence was depressing the heck out of me and I needed to lighten the mood.

Yes, our water line broke, spilling our drinking water into the creek and ingesting who knows what foul pollutants from the storm water. Maybe none, we don’t know – but prudence and unambiguous state law dictated that we be told in no uncertain terms to boil our water before drinking it. Everything is fine now, for us anyway. Still to be told is the chlorinated drinking water’s effect on the 8,000 coho fingerlings planted in the creek not long before as part of the effort to bring the salmon back to Dutch Bill Creek and to the Russian River watershed as a whole.

As we feel empathy for those coho children, let’s also feel empathy for the many people world wide for whom boiling water before drinking it is a daily and indefinite truth. Our access to fresh drinkable water right from the tap is the most precious luxury any of us own – and own it we do, along with the apparently fragile pipeline bringing it to us. Of course, by “ownership” I mean we pay the bills on it while other people decide what is to be done with it. Such is representative democracy, and I am not saying that in despair. Whatever horrible things are beyond our control in DC and worldwide, local elections still matter. As if anyone here needs reminding.

The specific task before us now is to educate ourselves on this water pipe as much as we can. Not only will this knowledge aid us in making appropriate decisions as required about the water pipeline, any knowledge we can gather about this pipeline will prove to be useful data if another pipeline, such as a sewer pipe, is ever proposed again.

The other thing we can get good practice at is solving a community problem together. We’re going to have to do more of that in the future, and with far less help from distant government authorities. If we get better at working together for mutual survival, that will be the silver lining here.

Okay, let’s end on a happy note. Shortly before the whole pipeline excitement, Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District (GRRCD) had a celebration at the firehouse for the completion of the dam removal and creek restoration project. Go down there and be inspired by what a community can do, working together. GRRCD was the spearhead agency on this and I say job well done. Your tax dollars at work!

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