Drink to life and use it responsibly

By Carol Walker


We hear it all the time, “drink a minimum of 64 oz. of water every day.” Now they are saying we can count the water in foods and juices as part of our daily intake. That helps, because I know I never drink enough water, but if I care about life, I will drink more of the life-giving liquid and encourage my family to do the same.

I’ve been thinking about water the last couple days, since hearing about the disputes over water rates in Rapid City. Hill City has higher rates than they do, but I can’t complain. I turn on the tap, and there it is, cool, clear water.

Every time water comes to mind, I think about Jamshid, an exchange student from Uzbekistan who stayed with us during the 1996-97 school year.  He told us about the problem of the diminishing Aral Sea due to excessive irrigation in the countries surrounding it, including Uzbekistan. Between 1960 and 1990 the sea lost more than three-quarters of its surface area, and today, it covers less than 10 percent of its volume before 1960. Though irrigation enabled crops to be grown and jobs created, it also caused the collapse of the fishing industry, and thousands lost their jobs.

His comments on the Aral Sea made me realize how fortunate we are to be able to turn on a faucet and have adequate water for our daily use. Hill City has been working toward building another water reservoir, but so far we have been doing OK. A few times we had to restrict water use in the summer, but nothing that impacted us significantly.

I remember the effect of two of our children working at Rainbow Bible Ranch, north of Rapid City, on the prairie, in the summer. They learned to take quick showers, soap, rinse and get out, because the water supply out there, particularly in drought years, does not allow for luxuriating in the spray of water. I learned from them not to waste the water.

We can survive without a daily shower, but we can’t go too many days without water for drinking. We all probably learned in school that the human body is primarily water, infants, 70 percent, adult males, 60 percent and females, 55 percent.

Water hydrates our bodies, serving as a lubricant to moisten joints and offers protection for our eyes, brain and spinal cord. It is necessary in making blood, it moves food through the digestive tract and removes waste from every cell in our bodies. It provides a stream for electrolytes to circulate throughout the body, it regulates the pH balance in the body and absorbs and releases heat to maintain the correct body temperature.

As population increases, likewise the need for more water goes up, which has led to disputes, even in our country. Just a quick survey of the internet shows water disputes in Washington, Oregon, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and others. In countries of the world, armed conflict has occurred due to water rights.

I learned in the United States, surface water rights are governed by two different doctrines. In the eastern part of the United States the riparian doctrine is followed, which says if you live close to the river or lake you have reasonable rights to the water. The West uses the prior appropriation doctrine, saying that who was there first has priority.

So, this morning, as you turn on the faucet for a drink or a shower, think about the precious God-given resource we have access to today. I appreciate our city employees who monitor and maintain the local supply. We must use it wisely. We think it is our right to have water, but it’s a privilege, a gift. In some parts of the world, people have even died in conflicts over water.