Today is United Nations World Water Day, an opportunity to reflect on the importance of water all over the planet and the threats that it faces from all directions. ““The single non–negotiable thing life requires is water,” to quote her Deepness. Indeed, without water, it is a sure thing that you would not be reading this right now.
It’s worth noting that on this World Water Day this country’s waterways are under siege like they haven’t been in a long while. Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes – they are among the larger areas seeing huge cuts in cleanup and restoration funding, and here in the corner of the country, Puget Sound stands to lose even more. At a time when wild salmon are in steep decline and the local orca population is starving, when rising acidification is starting to take a toll on shellfish and the simple guts of benthic feeders are packed with plastic fibers and chunks, the latest alt-budget calls for a 93% cut in federal funding for programs here in the Pacific Northwest.
It’s hard to gauge the results at this point. First of all, the 93% figure is a starting point, not a final amount. After debate and horse-trading, eventual cuts will not be as severe and additional funding will inevitably be added later, quietly. The Sound will not go away and all news will not be all bad. But the money is not the whole point, and funding is just the tangible proof of value; it is the changing of those values that is the real story, one that is harder to tell.
They say that a budget is a moral document, that the prioritizing of financial actions shows the world what you really stand for. That certainly seems to be the case. It is hard to know exactly what comes next but it does seem that we will all have plenty to be concerned about.
For now, while you still can, go to the tap and fill a tall glass with clear, cool water. Drink it down slowly and savor each swallow. That, quite literally, is life.