We can’t trust our rivers
No matter how crystal-clear the water flows as it snakes across the plains; no matter how fresh the cascades look as they rush past the rocks; no matter how glittering the ripples appear on the deep; no matter how the banks are beautifully adorned by the green thickets; and no matter how refreshing and cold the water caresses our skin, we cannot trust our rivers.
Don’t ever drink the water in them unless you are at their very source, at the foot of a heavily forested mountain releasing through a cave an abundant supply of clear water, ice-cold as it escapes off rock formations to form a cascading river below. Don’t even put it into your mouth to taste it, or to gurgle it, for you may be risking your health.
A century ago, in the days of old, one may have done it freely, without fear of anything destructive to health. Tired from a day’s work, or an exhausting journey, one may descend the river bank and crawl on the shallow water, burying his face in that fresh, cold creation and drinking to his tummy’s content, not mindful of bothersome effects, just of satisfaction.
It’s a different time now. Everything has changed—the people, the environment, the weather patterns, the temperatures, the human activities, their tools and devices, their industries, transportation, food production, inventions, and a whole lot more. All this are contributory to environmental degradation, impairing sanitation, the ecology, and the earth we live in.
Rivers, of course, are not spared; like the oceans, they are the direct recipients of wanton and irresponsible waste disposal. In remote barrios and villages where people have nowhere to throw their trash as land owners in surrounding areas do not allow it, people just go to the nearby bridge to throw their wastes into the river. Anyway, as they reason out, these things won’t clog the river because, come the rainy days, the floods will carry them downstream.
Many of our rivers then have become a depository of garbage and all sorts of wastes. As they zigzag on their way to the sea, they pass through a lot of human interventions and activities. Farmers would walk their carabaos into the river so these animals could wallow in the water, at times releasing their manure there; mothers would do their laundry at the river banks, soaping their dirty clothes and rinsing the same in water, and many more.
Worst, those without toilets would comfortably squat on the running water and drain their bellies of waste materials there, doing this in a daily basis, in big number depending on the family members, and on the residential houses close to the river course. Not only this. Those with dead animals find the river an easy depository place instead of burying their rotting animals in the soil.
Given all this, how else can we trust our rivers?
By: Doms Pagliawan
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