Our imaginations have long been fired by Mars, but more specifically the possibility of life — from invaders to our favorite one of them and then Matt Damon being trapped there. So the NASA announcement that there is liquid water on the red planet’s surface was huge, not only for the scientific community but for all of us because water is the building block of life.
From the spectacular to the mundane we go. Water on earth is so plentiful that we take for granted the clean drinking water available at the twist of a valve. We grouse when the bill goes up $3 a month.
Five of our metro-east counties move more than 50 million gallons every day from the sources to our homes. Think about that volume, each day, versus what a little water does to erode that dirt mound in your back yard or rust your barbecue grill. The system to purify and then distribute takes a lot of wear and tear, and systems are old — Collinsville’s water plant was built in 1958 and needs an $18 million replacement that is already driving up water rates.
“Water is the new gold,” said Dennis Sullivan, O’Fallon’s former public works director. “If people don’t understand (that), they will ... as we start to run out of water across the nation.”
So the $19 billion worth of work that the feds estimate will be needed in Illinois during the next 20 years needs to be a central topic at all layers of government. Planning for it will best reduce those costs while ignoring or being haphazard will likely drive up rates even more.
Consider it our Prime Directive: “Without water, life itself would be impossible.”