Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thristy in Texas....

I remember the exact color of the glass, it was brownish, but clear, I filled it up from the tap and could see the dirt particles swirling, I waited for them to settle before taking a big gulp. With 100 days at or above 100 degrees, in deep South Texas (I mean the border, and Gulf, that deep), big glasses of water are a necessity. It didn’t seem strange at the time to see dirt in the water and drink it anyway. But by the time I was 10, 1992ish, drinking water from the tap was a dangerous thing. I recall watching the news about how unhealthy the water was that came out of the Rio Grande River. We heard about all the miscarriages, all the people who’d become ill, all the people living with disabilities because of that water. Water stations, called Windmills, were setup all over the Rio Grande Valley, you could get clean water for 50 cents a gallon. You’d recycle your gallon jugs and use them over and over again. Those who could afford it, had Ozarka delivered to their doors. Those who couldn’t pay the 50 cents a gallon, or buy Ozarka, were left drinking the tap, and praying their health wouldn’t suffer. The old ladies used to yell at the kids at church for drinking water from the fountain and not from the fancy Ozarka machine, that long since has become an everyday part of my life.

I left the Valley shortly after this, but when I returned 5 years later, I’d forgotten you couldn’t drink the water. I was at a restaurant with friends and I ordered water, they asked if I wanted it bottled or from the tap, when I said “from the tap,” my friends looked shocked, concerned, confused even. They kindly told the server, “she wants it bottled, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about!” The tap water is so bad in Edinburg, TX, where I graduated from high school, that my parents have been instructed by their veterinarian not to give it to their pets!

I looked into it a little bit more and found out that 318 of the major facilities in Texas exceeded pollution discharge limits at least once in the year of 2005 totaling in over 1,300 violations, the most of any state in the U.S. Found in the water, and topping the list were arsenic and cyanide, according to Elizabeth White with the Associated Press. I also found out that well over half the waterways in Texas are unsafe for things such as swimming and fishing. When I looked at the list of the most dangerous waterways in Texas, I discovered there were places on there that I had both swam and fished at, such as Falcon Dam.

Okay, so I’m sure you’ve figured it out, the water situation is bad in Texas, especially in the poorer communities, the border towns, or small isolated cities, from yellow water coming out of the tap, or water that wears down the enamel on your teeth, and even water that will kill you over time, don’t we all deserve not to worry about what comes out of the faucet?
In about two months we’ll be joining together at General Conference and bringing light to this issue, “I was thirsty.” If you’d like to join us in fighting for water as a human right, or if you have questions feel free to contact us! If you’d like some information now on Texas water, and what’s going on to make things better head to
grace and peace

ps: notice the pics below, that's where I get my water from!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Let Justice Roll

Have you ever been really thirsty? So thirsty that, even though you don't have access to any bottled or filtered water, you just have to go to the kitchen, plug your nose, and chug a big 'ol glass tap water? For some of us this is more common than for others, but in Phoenix, you know you're thirsty when you're willing to drink from the tap!

For those of you who are familiar with issues of water, both foreign and domestic, the paragraph above mat seem like a set up... and it is, except that, even with all I know, it truly is how I feel. Even though a lack of clean drinking water is the leading cause of illness world wide (, I still take for granted that the remarkably safe water that comes out of my tap will always be there. And even though UNICEF sites fecal contamination of drinking water as a leading cause of the 4,000 daily deaths from diarrhea amongst children under the age of five, I still turn my nose up at it.

While I've read that both Dasani and Aquafina are really just that same tap water, packaged and sold to me at exorbitant prices, compromising th environment, both through the manufacture of plastic for the bottles and through the transportation cross country of a commodity that flows freely into my house, I still pick up a bottle anytime someone offers me one. And even though I know that reverse osmosis wastes almost as much water as it produces at the end of the process, I still fill up bottles outside my local drug store.

In April, OnFire will join the United Methodist Church in Fort Worth Texas for General Conference. We are planning coordinated witnesses around immigration (check back regularly to hear more about or "I was a stranger" campaign) and water as a basic human right, know as our "I was thirsty" campaign. We will be selling water bottles on the cheap, encouraging all of the delegates to reduce their consumption of disposable plastic by refilling regularly at our water filling station. We will also use this opportunity to highlight the concern for free and public access to clean drinking water around the world.

We hope that you will all be able to join us, but for those of you who cannot, we encourage you to get involved where you are. If you'd like more information on how you can run an "I was thirsty" campaign in your local area, email us at If you have ideas about effective ways to witness around water issues, send 'em our way. If you have stories of how you are sharing the witness of God's love and call to compassion around water issues, please post them here for others to read. Together, we can create God's kin-dom, where justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream (Amos 5:24). Amen!