B y J i m W r i g h t
IF THE OPPONENTS of the water initiative on November's ballot begin distributing "the facts and the simple truth" like they told their supporters at a Monday-morning fundraiser at the Viscount Hotel, the public should brace itself for some major shit throwing.
Car dealer Buck O'Rielly and his Tucsonans for Safe Water told the sparse crowd at the Viscount how a public health crisis is allegedly in the offing unless the initiative is defeated.
Chris Sheafe, executive vice president of Estes Homebuilding, and O'Rielly told the small gathering how the passage of the initiative would "prevent the city from treating groundwater with chlorine." The end result of this misinformed folly, Sheafe and O'Rielly alleged, could result in a major breakout of water-borne diseases such as cholera. It's always nice to hear from these two science geeks, even if they're more into making money hand over fist than their Nobel-winning colleagues.
Sheafe went on to tell the crowd how cholera is a quick and effective killer. "It's all over in a matter of a few hours."
He noted that along the Oregon Trail from Missouri to Oregon, a body is buried every 100 feet due to killer cholera.
The message was loud and clear: If the Water Initiative passes, Tucsonans will die.
What's wrong with this picture? Lots.
Groundwater pumped from beneath the Tucson valley does not carry cholera.
Cholera, says Terry Pollock, spokesman for the Water Initiative, is found in surface water such as rivers and lakes. Cholera is most likely to be found in the CAP canal coming from the Colorado River and Lake Havasu, where raw sewage is dumped. The CAP water we receive, says Pollack, originates at Lake Havasu.
"Keep in mind CAP water, the way it was originally planned, was never meant to be used as drinking water," Pollack says. "CAP water was originally intended as a supplement for our groundwater supply--for agriculture, mining, effluent and for recharge. It was never intended to be drinking water.
"That's why it's carried to us in open canals. These canals are subject to airborne contaminants and pesticides. If it was intended for drinking water, it would be carried to us in pipes, not open canals."
According to Pollack, Tucson Water treats our water pipes with chlorine not so much to prevent cholera, but to kill algae. He adds the Water Initiative certainly would not prevent the continued use of chlorine.
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