The Gift of Water

By Kathleen Heideman

There is a fish in me,” claimed the poet Carl Sandburg. John Muir said, “Rivers flow not past, but through us.” Overly poetic? How about this: “We exist to advance the sources of creation and creativity. Refresh your mind and restore your body. Life. Water. Inspiration.” This label adorns a water bottle—“LIFE WTR”— bottled by PepsiCo and sold for $2 per liter. What runs through us if not “life water?” Our brains and hearts are 75 percent water. Water isn’t a luxury item.

Recently, the podcast Radiolab explored conservation hunting (“Wild Things”). “If we want wildlife to be around for future generations… wildlife has to have a value. If it doesn’t have a value… it’s gonna be gone.” The hunter who said this had paid $350,000 to shoot an endangered rhino. By his reckoning, an old bull had a “negative value.” By paying to kill it, he was “creating a positive value” for rhinos, “jobs for game wardens… for trackers.” We’ve heard this argument before: Michigan’s water has a negative value unless extracted, used in a power plant’s cooling system, transformed from a public resource into a…

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