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 http://www.cleanwateraction.org/tx/.
grace and peace
ps: notice the pics below, that's where I get my water from!!!