Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Drinking or Swimming? Does the answer depend on the question?

Is clean water important to me? Why or why not?

This question really made me stop and think.  A knee-jerk reaction was yes, of course.  On the surface level, drinkable tap water is very important to me.  I can’t imagine living in a place where I can’t turn on the tap and drink the water.  My aunt was a missionary in Honduras for seven years, and came back shortly after I was born.  In my childhood and teenage years, she made sure to point out to me the simple luxuries I had that others didn’t.  I was even able to observe the difference in quality of tap water.  At her house, she lived in a town with an iron-rich well system that turned all the clear drinking glasses yellow.  In my own hometown, the capital of Ohio, we didn’t have this problem.  I toured a sewer plant in middle school, and the process of clean water was very clear to me.  Still, no matter where I stayed, tap water was drinkable. 

However, this class isn’t about the water we drink in our homes.  It’s about the water in our harbor.  Again, my knee-jerk reaction was yes, of course I want clean water.  As I began to think about it though, I realized that I couldn’t easily clarify why.  I enjoy visiting the water, but I don’t enjoy swimming in the ocean often or visiting beaches.  I dislike staying in the sun for extended periods of time, so I don’t often visit the waterfront.  In my nearly three years in Boston, this was my first visit to the Boston waterfront, although I have had multiple visits to the beaches on the South Shore.  Why then do I care if we have clean water to swim in?  For me, it is a mixture of nostalgia and the common good.  I grew up in the Midwest with the Great Lakes, and have fond memories of sailing on Lakes Erie and Huron.  I didn’t care much for swimming in any of the lakes, but still enjoyed other water activities.  I also watched my family members enjoy recreational fishing.   To me, the water has always been a resource that is meant to be shared.  As a member of the public, I should be able to safely enjoy what the waters have to offer, and leave the area the same or better than I found it.  I also believe that I should pay money to ensure the water is clean enough to enjoy.  In the end, it doesn’t matter if I visit the beaches often or not.  What matters is that I could if I wanted to, and that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy what the water has to offer.


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