By BEN CARPENTER
Can we wash the dishes in it? Should we give it to the dog? Do you have money for a water bottle?
These are questions that floated in discussion throughout the Fredonia community in the last week. That's when the notice was posted in the entrance way to Fredonia Village Hall, that the Chautauqua County Health Department had issued a "boil water advisory" for the village of Fredonia.
The issue in this case may be minor - a faulty chemical pump, a failed water clarity test so it's doubtful one will fall ill, or procure a rash from taking a shower. Thankfully, we don't need to wait for a legitimate catastrophe to learn a lesson for the public good.
Who in recent memory has thought this much about their dishwater? Who has concerned themselves with the contents and safety of their child's bathwater? How about its source? How often does one really interact with water in this day and age?
Upon closer examination, we find that it is a matter so inescapable, that even the likes of Dunkin' Donuts, Tim Horton's and Starbucks - multinational corporate juggernauts, are rendered unable to serve any of their famous beverages that haven't boiled for at least 3 minutes.
Not just ice lattes, or smoothies, but some warm drinks like cappuccinos, and macchiatos for which the water isn't boiled long enough before being served.
Of course this speaks nothing of those with low income who are forced to pay for bottled water at 100 times the cost of that water from the municipal supply.
Hopefully, after a good deal of knocking cogs and pistons about in the pumps down at the treatment plant (which is open to public tours should the fancy catch you) as citizens we can put this lesson to practice.
For example, did you know that, during the winter, local governments have been known to use coal fly ash as a traction agent on the roads? Mercury, arsenic, cadmium and nickel can't be rid of by boiling your tea for 3 minutes.
Did you know that much of the chemical slurry used in the new and dangerous hydro-fracking methods cannot be filtered out by our outdated water filtration infrastructure?
Did you know, that all of this is pending, given your involvement as a drinker of water, in local and state decision making? That is to say, for a good many of us, there is a newly discovered vested interest in protecting our water supplies.
Don't we have a responsibility in protecting them? You're your local legislator today or if you're feeling particularly irked, visit www.foodandwaterwatch.org to secure your most basic interests.
Ben Carpenter is a Fredonia resident.