Frogs value water, do you?

October 21, 2007|By Lloyd Waters

There is an old Native American saying that "the frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives." I thought about these words carefully as I've been considering the recent dry conditions of our state. How do people deal with droughts? What is the value of water? Do people really make an effort to conserve this important resource or do we merely take it for granted?

The State of Maryland has issued a "drought watch" for 15 central and eastern counties. Frederick is included on this list. Some of the underground monitoring wells in Central Maryland have also reached record lows as revealed by a recent geological survey. I suspect some of the underground well water in Washington County might also be receding due to the lack of rainfall.

During a recent vacation to Minnesota and down to South Carolina, I noticed in those local newspapers along the way that drought conditions also exist in many other states. Indianapolis had restrictions on water use; Wisconsin was concerned that some 1,000 springs have dried up; Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina were all experiencing drought conditions.


The Western states have also experienced periods of drought. The late Sen. Barry Goldwater from Arizona was often fond of saying that "a man from the west will fight over three things: water, women and gold, and usually in that order."

There is some speculation that there will be more wars fought over water in the future than oil or other issues.

As I made my annual journey through Wicomico and Somerset counties in Maryland on my way to do a little fishing on Smith Island, drought conditions were a routine topic of conversation by the locals of those areas.

Recently, it was discovered that the Eastern Correctional Institution in Somerset County was using nearly 10 times its permitted allotment of water. Further compounding the situation was a local sod farm that was pumping water almost nonstop from two unauthorized wells.

Because of diminished water resources in this part of the state, more than 160 wells have gone dry. This has created much distress and economic burden for many families. Much of the blame has been directed at the prison and sod farm.

The state is supposedly offering interest-free loans to low-income families to dig new wells. Costs of these wells may vary from $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the depth of the well.

Although the Hagerstown prisons get their water from the city and may not have a direct impact on local county wells, the use of water there remains nonetheless quite substantial. The complex probably uses in excess of 750,000 gallons of water each day and more during hot summer weather. Conservation measures should be routinely emphasized.

As I ride my bike near the Antietam Creek, I have noticed for the past several years that the water seems to be receding. I have also seen rocks in the Potomac River appear for the first time ever, because water levels have fallen to such a low point.

Ralph Nader once said that "water is the most precious, limited resource we have in this country." It is the most basic of all resources.

As I think about our society and the good earth, I can't help but wonder why it is that we are so wasteful of so many things. We seem to think that water is an endless commodity while it is abundant and make little effort to be frugal and wise in our use.

Do we have to wait until the well is dry to realize the value of water? Or is it time to respect this priceless resource through proper use and a conservation effort which is mindful of the earlier observation of the frog?

I hope you do the right thing in regard to water conservation. It's something that impacts your life and your neighbors in more ways than you realize.

Even a frog knows the value of water, do you?

Lloyd "Pete" Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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