WATERSHEDS

Commentary by Ray Simmons
The Mustard Seed

Posted 4/3/04


A recent article in a local weekly newspaper, The Beacon, centered around meetings being held to discuss the preservation of the Cahaba river. There was talk about the Cahaba watershed and steps that need to be taken within that watershed to clean up the Cahaba or see that it isnít polluted any further. We see such "watershed" meetings being held all across the nation, just as we saw "visioning sessions" a few years back and sessions on the educational "goals 2000" a few years before that.

A closer look reveals that more often than not some of the same consulting firms get involved in these meetings regardless of where they are being held. Whether in Birmingham, Alabama or Guilford County, North Carolina or some place in California the same names are likely to pop up. Local taxpayer dollars, often in the hundreds of thousands, are being paid by elected officials for so-called studies to determine the best approach to saving mother earth. (I refuse to make a god of mother earth by capitalizing the title.)

Many people, when they hear of such meetings or read about them in their daily newspapers, tend to think they apply to someone else and will have no impact on them personally since they do not live near the river. Because of this they are prone to ignore what is being planned.

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT YOU LIVE IN A WATERSHED! No matter where you live, the water that falls on your property works its way into a stream somewhere. That stream then winds its way to a river. Most likely in the Birmingham area and its environs that river will be the Cahaba or the Black Warrior. In North Carolina it could be the Catawba (visit Big Daveís web site at: www.ucrla.org/), wherever you live thereís a river close by, and when regulations are issued to residents within the watershed -- that means YOU.

Citizens in and around Birmingham are already paying a "rainwater" (or stormwater) runoff fee that is being added to their annual property tax. For the moment it is relatively minor for homeowners but some businesses are being hit pretty hard. In some places (Greensboro, North Carolina for example) this is a quarterly fee added to their utility bill and is virtually equal to the amount they pay for water. These fees are supposedly to pay for repair of the pollution caused by the water running across oneís property on its way to the river.

Each state is having to collect some kind of fee because of regulations from Washington accruing from the "Clean Waters Act." As of now the states have leeway as to how they manage this and the state regulations will vary from state to state. Nevertheless, the edict did not originate within the states but came down from the federal government. The federal government, not so incidentally, was responding to requirements established through one or more United Nations treaties.

So what? We might ask. Everyone wants and needs clean water. Absolutely! And reasonable steps to ensure that industries and manufacturers stop polluting need to be taken and supported by the people. What is happening, however, is something entirely different. Big government has seized upon our fear of pollution and our desire for clean water as a means of expanding its control over you and your property.

Farmers will have to keep their cattle away from any stream that runs through their property or pay huge mitigation fees for the privilege of letting them drink from what was once considered their own water. They will have to fertilize their crops in accord with the "clean water" regulations that will be issued by some bureaucrat who likely never walked across an acre of farm land in his life.

Part of these efforts are aimed at getting the small farmer off the land and into urban areas so that the land can be turned back into wilderness. Already we are seeing wild animals (the black bear and the timber wolf are examples) being reintroduced into areas where they are becoming threats to livestock and even to citizens.

The Clean Waters Act is only one of the tools being used for this. The Endangered Species Act is another major player in the move to rurally cleanse the land of people so that it can be turned back over to the animal kingdom. The Klamath Basin in southern Oregon and northern California was a prime example of this in 2001. The present effort to reflood the Everglades in Florida is another. And the movement is expanding ever more rapidly. We are told, and most of us seem to believe, itís all about preserving the environment. It really isnít. Itís really about people control. And you and I are the people who will be controlled.


 

 

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