Thursday, August 19, 2010

OPINION: Lifting Our Heads Out Of The Sand

Magdalena Potluck
By Don Wiltshire

I don’t know how to put this delicately but we’re about to be raped! The master plan is for 37 water wells with 20 inch casings to be driven 3000 feet down into our aquifer (oh, my!). When the pumping action begins, 17.5 billion gallons of our water a year will be sent down Rt. 60 in some sort of pipeline to be dumped into the Rio Grande. This will be rape of the first order and the time to start screaming is now!
This is no small amount of water. I’m having trouble just getting the 554 ½ red, white and blue gallon water jugs together that will represent one second’s worth of pumping. These will be used creatively to protest the current water “plan.”
At our last Water Meeting at the Magdalena Library, Jack Loeffler offered up a deluxe version of his program Thinking Like a Watershed. He tailored it for our needs in fighting this insane project. Origins of water law and attitudes toward water in the arid west were explained. Consequences of these attitudes were then laid out: none of the major rivers in the west now flow to the sea; we use it all, and soon we will be wanting more.
Jack then reminded us that in order to make our case to the broader public, we need to reintroduce passion into our fight. This land of ours is sacred; our water is sacred; and the communities which we have built here are sacred. This runs contrary to the promptings that we’ve received from lawyers, hydrologists and politicians for the “proper” way to conduct ourselves at the upcoming hearing.
We seem to be surrounded by many, many apathetic ostriches with their heads stuck firmly into the sand. Don’t our neighbors realize that without water, we’ve lost it all? All of Catron County and the western half of Socorro County could turn into barren wastelands at first. The Gila River, Alamosa Creek and the entire southwest corner of the state would soon follow. Jack finally asked us where all of our twenty year-olds were. We looked at each other and shrugged our shoulders.
There seems to be a misconception here and in the rest of the state, that we’re sitting on a huge pile of gold (water) like some sort of selfish, diabolical Leprechauns. The rest of the state wants it; they need it. The horrible truth is, we need it as well. Without the underlying base of groundwater which has been there for hundreds of thousands of years, the recharge of rainwater to this area that we use for domestic and agricultural activities would become unreachable. This area would turn into the Great San Augustin Desert.
I, for one, am not about to let this happen. The final decision, of course, rests with the State Engineer, a Governor’s appointee. If you have the opportunity, please ask each of the candidates for Governor, where they stand on this issue then get back to me. Like Jack said, the only way to stop this thing is to stand together and let the rest of the state know how we feel about this insane “water grab.”
The next meeting of the Summer Reading Program on Water will be on Wednesday, August 25 at 7 p.m. at the Magdalena Public Library. We had hoped to have Representative Harry Teague there to give us his take on our situation. Unfortunately, he was unable to commit at this time. I have definitely decided not to vote for any candidate who does not pledge to support us in saving our water. Remember, a “no-vote” option sends just as strong a message as checking one of those little boxes.
It’s time we all started looking a little more closely at our political representatives. Are they representing US or do they only care about catering to the needs of large corporations, growth at any cost and “business as usual” including our never ending wars. Why must we keep cutting back on funds for education, infrastructure and human needs just to keep feeding the military-industrial-corporate complex?
Our backup plan for the Water Meeting is to show Robert Redford’s movie: The Milagro Beanfield War, based on John Nichol's book. This is billed as a quirky “feel good” movie. Set in a tiny New Mexican town, it has close parallels to the situation we are soon to face and shows just how effective a little organized action can be. It stars John Heard, Christopher Walken and Melanie Griffith. Because the movie runs 2 hours, it will start promptly at 7:00 as the Library closes at 9:00.
Let’s get more vocal; let’s show our neighbors, our representatives and the rest of the state how we care about our community.

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