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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Water Everywhere

It rained a lot yesterday. Even more than the day before, and the day before that.

I like watching the rain accumulate in a puddle in the stone garden in front of my house.

This is my puddle. This is my water. I am rich! I have water to spare. I can even put on my big rubber boots and jump up and down in that puddle. If I lived in the desert, I could  not do that.

Right now there is flooding in some parts of my state, and I know that in other states there is a drought. And there are some people saying we should take all the water from the flooded states and ship it to the drought stricken states. I'm not sure that would be a good idea. It smacks of redistribution. How would they fund this? How would local landowners be paid for the water they give up?  I want to keep my water. I like it here, just the way it is. And to the extent that I want to change things, I want to be able to dig a moat around the pasture and let natural rain water fill it and make an island for Bow.

Bow indoors during the rain watching music videos on my computer
"We all  share the same world, and we breathe the same air,
 "And the water we drink must be cycled with care."

I wrote that! It's a very important song in The Debt Collector, a musical I collaborated on with composer Daniel Carter.  I do know about the water cycle. I also know that something that belongs to everybody belongs to nobody. The best way to conserve water is to allow each person to own the puddles on his land, his drinking water from the well, and all the water of which his own body is composed. Any attempt to nationalize water will ultimately mean that we do not even have the right to control the body of water that is ourselves.

We have been told a lot of myths about water. We've been told that every person, no matter his size or sex or body type, should drink eight glasses of water per day -- in the form of pure, unadulterated water. In fact, almost everything we eat or drink -- fruit, vegetables, meat, soup, milk and any number of brewed, boiled  or carbonated beverages -- contains water. We do need water to live, but we can take it in in many forms, and for a dehydrated person  to try to drink pure water can be dangerous, because of the possibility of electrolyte depletion.

We have been told that our bodies are composed of 70% water -- as if every person were exactly the same as every other person. In fact, the average adult male human contains  58 ±8%  water, and the average human female is composed of only  48 ±6%. It turns out that this also plays into fluctuations between and among adult individuals of the same sex, because the higher the fat content of your body, the lower the water content.  One size does not fit all.  Unless you are a newborn, chances are your water content is not anywhere near 70%.

The idea that bodies of water, and even their banks or edges,  should belong to the public in the United States may have begun with Thomas Jefferson's grudge against Edward Livingston for supporting Aaron Burr. Jefferson confiscated from Livingston a piece of property in Louisiana called the Batture of Sainte Marie. You can read Livingston's response to Jefferson's justification of the confiscation here:

It is precisely because we all depend on water for our existence that we should be allowed to own property and all the water on it and beneath it. There can be no other kind of freedom -- of speech, of action, of life and limb -- without the ability to control one's own water. Some people say that access to water is a fundamental human right. But it's the right to own water that gives us our freedom.

So I rejoice in every puddle, and I look forward to the day when I can have an even bigger puddle on my land, one that will help to contain Bow within its borders, but will give him much more freedom of movement than he currently has.


  1. I think we could ship water to drought areas without making this mandatory. Perhaps farmers who need the water could pay for shipment, and barter with areas that have more water. If they can make pipe lines for gasoline, why not water? I am for this being a voluntary economic trade though between interested parties.

    1. Hi, Julia. Of course, it is okay to make any sort of bargains that are acceptable to both sides between and among individuals. People who own water can sell it. People who have money can buy it. But I would not want "areas" to be bargaining with one another, as that sounds like government. However, I agree with you about voluntary economic bargains between interested individuals.

  2. And I have a hard time drinking more than two plain glasses of water. Unless it is sparkly water. It might sound counter intuitive, but I find I have a stronger heat tolerance than the people who are always complaining about me not guzzling the water. I eat a lot of fruit too, which has water.

    1. I am like you, Julia. I do drink some carbonated water, but cannot tolerate the quantities prescribed. I do eat fresh fruit and vegetables and even meat dishes that contain lots of water, though.