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The 90 Day Plan

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Industrial Waste Impact on Global Water Quality

RE: “In addition agricultural and industrial production result in new pollution problems that have become one of the biggest challenges facing water resources in many parts of the world.”


Thank you for putting forth all of the information and infrastructure for World Water Day 2010.  The materials are a great way to present the information and to help promote real solutions for the individual consumer.  That said, there does not seem to be much discussion surrounding industrial waste and the impact of large corporations on the environment.  While it is important to note what the average person can do to limit pesticide use on their lawns, it seems that industrial agriculture is a much greater threat to the environment due to its increased scale.  In other words, it might be more important that one industrial agriculture producer modify their practices to help limit nonpoint source pollution, than thousands of individual homeowners.  So much of the water discussion focuses on consumer habits, not industrial, while the scale of pollution is orders of magnitude larger in big corporate and municipal industry.  This is not an anti-capitalist stance, it is meant to draw attention to the scale of pollution and the incentives to limit “toxic releases”.


There are many benefits to humanity that stem from industry and the role of corporations to a healthy economy and society.  However, it is essential that we deincentivize industrial practices that pollute our surface and ground water, release toxic plumes into the air, remove our forests, strip mine mountaintops, and drill wells to suck out natural resources and purge wastewater into injection wells.   These are the forces that have changed the state of water quality today.  The scale of these operations and their toxic releases into the environment are nowhere near in scale to the average individual in the population.  Even if the waste of the company were distributed amongst its employees and shareholders, the sheer quantity of waste from Industry in the United States dwarves the rest of the waste from the community (aside from sewerage and wastewater).


In addition, while the average consumer has a truly vested interest in high water quality for their own personal consumption, a corporation has a fiduciary responsibility to maximize returns on investment.  This forces the corporation to make decisions based on the bottom line.  With limited oversight and water quality testing, it will never be possible to police all of these entities and their ‘releases’ to the environment.  Will they have the gumption to change their ways to protect their own water supplies?




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