Permaculture in Practice

Nate Downey's views on saving the world as expressed in his published work

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Declaration of Independence --from Aquifer (July 2002)

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for people to redirect the pipes connecting them to their shrinking aquifer, and to consume a separate and equal water source to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect for mankind’s inertia requires that we make a declaration of the causes that impel them toward this new direction.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all treated water is created equal, that it is endowed by its Creator with unalienable potential. To secure this potential, systems are installed such that whenever any such system becomes unsustainable, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that systems long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. But, when a long train of abuses evinces an unconscious design to suck the aquifer and our rivers dry, it is our right, it is our duty, to provide sustainable alternatives. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.
We have refused to consider the awesome potential of the resources that fall from the sky and run down our drains. We have unnecessarily forbidden graywater recycling with regulations that make it prohibitively expensive. We have called underground cisterns too pricey and then spent untold dollars digging for water we never find.
We have obstructed the legality of above-ground cisterns in certain subdivisions, choosing aesthetics over necessity. We have combined, with others, to claim rights to water that doesn’t exist in dry years. We have abdicated our responsibility concerning our own roofwater runoff and wastewater (to bloated bureaucracies and big-time developers who determine that rainwater-catchment tanks and onsite wastewater-filtration systems are too much to deal with – while much of the rest of the world successfully uses these simple technologies).
Meanwhile we continue to plunder our rivers, reservoirs, and aquifers without worrying if our children will grow to hate us for our wastefulness.
We have been warned, from time to time, by lesser droughts, but most of us quickly forget the circumstances of our settlement here – while we allow yet another ill-conceived development to scar the natural landscape with water stolen from future generations. Many of us often have appealed to the magnanimity of the powers that be, but such powers have been deaf to the voice of justice.
Most conventional developers and government bureaucrats do not understand that we constantly, and at an alarming rate, are shrinking our aquifer. At the same time the no-growth folks do not understand that without the jobs and gross-receipts revenues that we obtain from construction, our community would go down the drain faster than so much runoff and wastewater.
We, therefore, in order to form a more perfect community, establish justice for our posterity and provide for the common defense of our local economy, do declare that in all future development, roofwater catchment and wastewater recycling can and of right ought to become the norm, such that some day in the not-too-distant future we become free from, and independent of, our current state of addiction to a shrinking aquifer while remaining free to grow our community and economy in a sustainable manner for future generations. And, for the support of this declaration we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honour.

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