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Sustainability: Thy Name is in the Death of a Water Pump
The old water tank - complete with blown valve and hole.

On a recent morning, in the small town of Clinton, Ky. the sunshine was just breaking through the trees and leaves of a promising May morning. Having just enjoyed the thrill of my first cup of morning coffee upon the front porch, I took in the beauty unfolding before me.

Colors of all types from an assortment of plants the flower gardens dominated the view of the front yard.

Walking inside. Plan to wash out my cup. As I always do, I turned the handle over the sink to flush out my cup with a dash of water.

At first, my mind did not register the fact that there was no water flowing. From the faucet, just a sound forming a cloud of nothingness. It took a whole 3 seconds for the enjoyment and good feeling from that first cup of coffee, to be blown away with the realization that there was no water. The well was not working.

The last time this had happened was during the great 2009 Ice Storm. Ice brought down power lines. No electricity, no well operation. Life for the next two weeks was living in the 19th century.

All this history flashed through my mind as I fought the ugly feeling of why there was no water.

Sometime in the night, pressure in the system blew out a section of the water tank vow. Water as gushing through a half inch hole. The metal had rusted out after many years of use.

In the light of day, we cut the power to the well. Within hours, Gus' Well Drilling sent over their holiday emergency crew.

Did I mention this event took place on Memorial Day, a national holiday?

With the experts on hand, power was turned back on. It took about one second for their leader to identify the problem.

Pointing to a new water fall stream exploding from the old pump water holding tank, he said, "There's your problem. A blown out pressure valve."

The story had a quick and happy ending. By noon the next day, the system had been replaced. Once again, we had water in our life.

This experience, on one hand, was a very personal story about living in an outpost of culture along the edge of American life.

Yet for me, this series of events taught me a new truth about how the future will work for places like this small town. In the span of one 24-hour day, life showed me the meaning of sustainability.

We live upon a very thin veneer of utilities, roads, food supply and commutation. Each of these areas dictate to what extend we, as individuals, live life. Most of the time we pretend that each day will be just like yesterday. All systems of our lives are often invisible, until they are not. Without cell phones, water, and electric power, homes become caves with limited light. In times like this, the human spirit is captured by doubt and fear.

With the repairs completed, the experts from Gus told me how the next use of the rusted out water tank would become. There is wealth in the copper, metal piping, and scrap metal from the dead water pump and tank.

In a flash, it came to me, sustainability. Yes, life had just reached out to me in order that I would or could realize how every resident of this town could play an important part in securing a new world for our planet.

Clinton is one of some 400 communities in Kentucky. These communities make up 120 counties. What if within each town a new sense became a reality where we now seek to live within a comprehensive growth plan from practicing sustainably.

Maybe the death of one water pump and one holding tank could lead the way to practicing a life of balance where humanity co-exists with nature?


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