When you think about the world’s most important resource your mind obviously jumps to oil. Wrong answer. Scientists tell us the world’s most important resource is water — clean, potable drinking water.
    For those of us living in the United States, that seems like an absurd idea. Everybody has water — but does everybody have clean water? The answer in Cumberland County is a resounding “NO.”
    Contamination of ground water is an issue that our county is going to have to face sooner, rather than later. Already, contaminated wells are cropping up throughout the county. For those affected, there are no easy answers. And for those who live in the vicinity, I would think that sleep would not come easy either.
    Like cancer, contaminated ground water tends to seep. It doesn’t remain in just one place, it moves, and the contamination grows. So, while today there may only be a handful of wells that are affected, what will that count be in six weeks, six months or six years? {mosimage}
    Cumberland County leaders do not have time to sit and wait to find out that answer. In fact, the county as a whole has waited too long. The county first began kicking around the idea of a countywide water system in 1969. Almost 40 years later, we’re back at the drawing board — kicking around the idea.
    Cumberland County’s biggest failure over the past century has been its inability to plan for the future. Instead, we sit back and wait for it to happen, and when a problem rears its head, like the issue of clean water, we’re left standing with our pants down. It doesn’t have to be this way.
    The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners exercised responsible government when they formed the Safe Water Task Force in February. The task force will, at some point in the near future, report back to the board on what it is has found and make recommendations for the best way Cumberland County can ensure that all of its citizens have clean water.
    At that point, the board must show their political will to do the right thing for the citizens of the county, but to a grea extent it falls into the laps of the citizens of Cumberland County. The commissioners can pursue grants and they can put a bond referendum forward to help fund the estimated $120 million it will take to pay for a countywide water system. But that’s all they can do.
    Then it will be in the hands of the voters who will have to decide what is more important — is it money or their very health? Each individual is going to have to answer some hard questions. What is it worth to you to know that the water you’re drinking is clean? What is it worth to you to know that you are not unknowingly poisoning your children? What is your neighbor’s life worth?
Think about it.
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