World Water Day is March 22, and this year it should come with reminders about how precious our right to clean water is, and how tenuous our hold on that right has become. Even as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the federal Clean Water Act, the very law that has done so much in restoring waterways like the Spokane River is under attack.
From Olympia to Washington, D.C., to right here in Spokane, those of us working to protect clean water and a healthy environment are essentially being told we have to choose between pollution prevention and economic recovery.
To say that this is a false choice puts it far too politely. Particularly with regard to the Spokane River, the evidence is that clean water is the catalyst for economic development, not an impediment to business and job growth. In fact, I’ve yet to see Spokane and the Inland Northwest “sold” without using the Spokane River as the attractant.
As we look back at 40 years of the Clean Water Act, I urge us all to fight for stronger environmental regulations, not weaker ones. That’s the only way this place really will be near nature, near perfect.