August 25, 2017

Reflections on World Water Week


One of the best books I’ve read in recent years is The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water by Charles Fishman. It’s captivating, chock-full of fascinating facts, and thought provoking. Forgive me, then, for dipping in and sharing several extended quotes on the occasion of World Water Week (August 27–Sept. 1). This week, try to take stock of your water use, examine your water footprint, your personal watermark, celebrate water, play in water, be thankful for water, and use less.

“Water is the most familiar substance in our lives,” Fishman writes. “It is also unquestionably the most important substance in our lives. Water vapor is the insulation in our atmosphere that makes Earth a comfortable place for us to live. Water drives our weather and shapes our geography. Water is the lubricant that allows the continents themselves to move. Water is the secret ingredient of our fuel-hungry society. The electricity you use at home each day requires 250 gallons of water per person, not just more than the actual water you use at home in the kitchen and the bathroom but two-and-a-half times more. That new flat-screen TV, it turns out, needs not just a wall outlet and a cable connection but also its own water supply to get going. Who would have guessed?

“Water is also the secret ingredient in the computer chips that make possible everything from MRI machines to Twitter accounts. Indeed, from blue jeans to iPhones, from Kleenex to basmati rice to the steel in your Toyota Prius, every product of modern life is awash in water. The two-liter bottle of Coke in your refrigerator required five liters of water to produce.

“Water is, quite literally, everywhere. When you take a carton of milk from the refrigerator and set it on the table, within a minute or two the outside is covered in a film of condensation—water that has migrated almost instantly from the air of the kitchen to the cold surface of the milk carton.”

“But water has achieved an invisibility in our lives that is only more remarkable given how central it is. Water used to be part of the rhythm and motivation of daily life, and there are plenty of places, including farms and whole swaths of the developing world, where it still is.

“…in the United States and the developed world, we‘ve spent the last hundred years in a kind of aquatic paradise: our water has been abundant, safe, and cheap. The twentieth century was really the first time when all three of those things were true. It has created a kind of golden age of water, when we could use as much as we wanted, whenever we wanted, for almost no cost.”

“The way water infuses the products we use every day, and the volumes those products require, is invisible to us.

“The ownership and control of water is invisible.

“The problems of water use are, for the moment, mostly invisible. When we‘re done with the water we use every day, it simply disappears. What becomes of it is invisible to us.

“Our very success with water has allowed us to become water illiterate.

“But the golden age of water is rapidly coming to an end…

“We are entering a new era of water scarcity-not just in traditionally dry or hard-pressed places like the U.S. Southwest and the Middle East, but in places we think of as water-wealthy, like Atlanta and Melbourne. The three things that we have taken to be the natural state of our water supply-abundant, cheap, and safe-will not be present together in the decades ahead. We may have water that is abundant and cheap, but it will be ‘reuse water,’ for things like lawn watering or car washing, not for drinking; we will certainly have drinking water that is safe, and it may be abundant, but it will not be thoughtlessly inexpensive.”

“…The new water scarcity will reshape how we live, how we work, how we relax. It will reshape how we value water, and how we understand it.

“We have ignored water-neglected our water supplies and our water systems, taken for granted the economic value of abundant water, and become blasé about the day-to-day convenience of easy water. We may well go directly from the golden age of water to the revenge of water.”

Time to Gear Up

Can you believe it has been five years since my last campaign, and 12 years since the first! With your help, we‘ve been successful in past elections, and now it's time to gear up for 2018!

Truly, a countywide campaign in the second-largest county in the country would be unthinkable without steadfast and dedicated supporters.

I achieved my first goal by securing the endorsement of the Cook County Democratic Party. Also endorsed for the six-year term on the Board of Commissioners of the MWRD were my fellow incumbent commissioners Kari Steele and Marty Durkan. Kim du Buclet, a former state legislator, alumna of the Illinois Women's Institute for Leadership and Director of Legislative and Community Affairs for the Chicago Park District, was endorsed for the two-year term that will also be on the ballot. Kim will be an ally and an asset on Board, and I am glad she was endorsed.

On Saturday, September 2, I will be participating in the Southeast Side Labor Day Parade. The parade begins at 11:00. Please let Eric Nelson know at if you would like to walk with me.

After Labor Day, we will begin collecting the 8,000 signatures we will need to get on the ballot. If you can help by circulating a sheet or two, again please contact Eric at, and we will provide materials and instructions as soon as we have them.

And thank you again and again for your support. It means the world to me.