When it comes to the subject
of water in America, comedian Lewis Black said it best: "I could go anywhere in
my house when I was a child – there were three or four different rooms
– I could go to my basement and I could get clean water and drink it. And
then go out and play. And those were great times."
And now? Not so much. In "Drop
By Drop: Protecting Indiana's Water Supply," WFYI producer Gary Harrison and
crew look around Indiana and show us a host of problems that are occurring now
or will in the future.
We're talking about septic
systems leaking untreated sewage into groundwater; a town (Orland, in far
northeast Indiana) where raw sewage is bubbling up 100 feet from downtown;
water and sewer pipes statewide that are corroding and need to be replaced; a
neighborhood (Garden City trailer community near Richmond) where residents had
been consuming well water containing levels of arsenic measured at six times
the EPA maximum safe limit.
In this fast-moving,
30-minute overview of the issues, Harrison and associates talk to about two
dozen people – government officials as well as average citizens –
to show us the seriousness and breadth of the state's water problems. They also
find pockets of good news in places like Muncie, where liners are being used to
prolong the life of water pipes, and in communities where they're creating
wetlands to filter water naturally.
But while the situation isn't
all bad, it's certainly not good or manageable. Garden City needed $1 million
to deliver clean water to the trailer park residents. Finding the money took
years. So imagine what it's going to be like trying to find the estimated
hundreds of millions of dollars it's going to cost to replace water and sewer
pipes around the state.
Water isn't a problem we talk
about much because, let's face it, we have so many other things to deal with.
But that's why "Drop By Drop" should be essential viewing. It's important to
have the issue in front of us so we can begin to address the problems. And we
need to see how broad the troubles are – which is what this show does so
As U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky
says here, clean water is "an investment in our health, our environment and our
"It's easy to be
overwhelmed," Lenore Tedesco, associate professor in the department of earth
sciences at IUPUI, adds. "But we don't have a choice."
And as almost everyone in
this program notes, without clean water, we're doomed.