Here is the one advantage to having the cheapest version of cable TV--the one that ONLY includes the free network stations.
The selections are so bad, that you actually opt to watch PBS--which is how I got to see Pulitzer-Prize winning Hedrick Smith's investigative examination of the waters of the Chesapeake Bay & the Puget Sound. Frontline: Poisoned Waters aired on Tuesday night April 21, 2009.
Here's my testimonial: normally, my husband would be sacked out by 9:30 pm on a Tuesday night, but this program kept him up until 11:00 pm. Check it out online at the Poisoned Waters website.
What's changed since then? Our waterways were supposed to be fishable & swimmable by 1983 and 25 years past that deadline we aren't even remotely close to success.
Hedrick Smith spent 18 months looking into our crown jewel waterways, the Chesapeake Bay & the Puget Sound and in the end he was shocked at what he discovered. As he says, "The worst pollution is invisible. The water looks OK, but it's not." And Smith is plenty worried for his grandchildren.
Fresh clean water is a resource we can't live without and after watching Frontline, it's clear that no one with clout is minding the store.
And this problem isn't going away anytime soon.
Here's just a sample of what I learned about our nation's water supply:
1. The Chesapeake Bay & Puget Sound are just the canaries in the coal mine when it comes to our nation's water supply.
2. Agriculture is the biggest threat to our clean water--the animal waste & chemical runoff. Who would have guessed?
3. Dead zones now occupy 40 percent of the Chesapeake Bay in the summer--vast areas where not a single crab or fish or blade of precious bottom grass can live because there's no oxygen to sustain life. These dead zones are rapidly growing and not just in the Chesapeake.
4. The reason: The tremendous amount of chicken manure runoff. There is over 1.5 billion pounds of it a year that makes its way into the Bay. It's the main source of the excess nitrogen & phosphorus that just sucks the oxygen right out the water--creating these Dead Zones. And Perdue chickens have something to do with it.
That's more manure than the human waste of New York City, Washington, DC, San Francisco & Atlanta put together. But human waste gets treated--animal waste doesn't. And the same problem exists from the hog, cattle & poultry farms all over the country.
5. For a graphic that illustrates the size of the animal industry, courtesy of NYT's Mark Bittman, click here--and notice the number of chickens we're consuming!
6. Our drinking water is a toxic soup filled with drugs & chemicals that our out-of-date water treatment plants were never designed to filter out.
Consider this: The U.S. Geological Survey has been testing rivers and drinking water all over the country. Tests of the water before it enters the Washington D.C. aqueduct have found 85 worrisome chemical compounds--that's before the water was treated.
The tests of the water after it was filtered still contained two-thirds of these chemicals. And this water is going straight into the homes & businesses of over a million people in the D.C. area. When one of the scientists working with the USGS was asked if she drinks the D.C. water, she answered, "No, I woudn't drink that water."
7. Researchers with the National Institute for Environmental Health Studies & Johns Hopkins University's School of Public Health know that many of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors that kill fish, cause mutations in frogs, lower human sperm count, threaten human health, increase the risk of breast cancer, and are responsible for male genital anomalies in infants. And this isn't limited to the Chesapeake Bay area. The USGS study has found the same contamination in tests all across the country.
8. The Pristine Pugent Sound? Not exactly. Most experts in the environmental community think the Puget Sound is in terrible shape and that we have less than a generation to clean it up. The Orca whales are already seriously threatened by the contamination.
There's the oil and gas run off from highways and based on actual sampling in the Puget Sound basin, it's estimated that the volume of oil that is carried into the Puget Sound by stormwater runoff is equal to the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound.
And the Puget Sound is a hot spot for PCBs from left-over asphalt and industrial sites and the Boeing Shipyard contaminants....and the list goes on and on.
Want to know more?
So What's Safe to Eat and Drink?
Weren't Our Waters Supposed to Be Cleaned Up Years Ago?
I Want To Get Involved. What Can I Do?