Imagine for a moment how our water used to be. We filled our glasses from the kitchen faucet, tasted how it clearly sweetened the tongue and coolly relaxed the throat, thoroughly quenching our thirst. Such is the grand way to savor the greatness of just plain water. Not one drop of chlorine touched this water, which came directly from our well. That was a mere 60 years ago. Many times the children and I enjoyed picnics and swimming at our special places along Pacheco Creek where the water flowed clear and blue with pools deep enough for diving.
Mr. Hawkins, who lived across the way on Orchard Road, remembered Indian tents that sprouted in secluded places along the Creek. Fred Sharp on Barnheisel Road used to tell how salmon could still be found in the creek waters. Now 60 years later, water no longer flows in the Pacheco even though San Benito Water District releases water from the San Luis Project to percolate through gravel strata and replenish the aquifer.
This, of course, is a shared aquifer belonging to all the people of San Benito County. Now with the growth of population and agriculture, greater demands are made on our water, requiring constant vigilance.
I love the embrace of our surrounding hills. They not only please visually but also give us our water. Excess rainwater running off hills makes its way through rocky creeks and percolates to the aquifers. This water cycle functions miraculously except for one interference. More demand produces more contaminants. Deeper water gathers more hardness from calcium and magnesium salts. Surface run-off picks up more animal waste and bacteria. Surface evaporation from ponds, lakes and ocean gathers up only the water to rise into rain clouds. The salts and particulates remain below to concentrate in ground water. Thus, the ocean gets saltier and so do the lakes and ponds, especially the toxic ponds left during fracking in south San Benito County. Truly scary is the toxic water re-injected under ground during fracking. Toxic chemicals like benzene, toluene and hydrofluoric acid filter through gravel to reach our aquifers. Toxic pools left above ground evaporate to poison our air, increasing suffering for those with allergies, asthma and lung diseases.
Howard Harris, one of the founders of San Benito Water District, wrote a weekly Free Lance column called “It Seems to Me.” It seems to me that fracking would shock him. So compare our water situation now to what it was a mere 60 years ago. Do you agree that good logic requires us to conserve and protect our precious water? And not allow a few corporations to waste and over-use 5 million gallons per well to extract oil for an open global market that neither benefits us nor our country? You will get a chance to exercise clear cool logic on the November ballot. Choose wisely.