Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Essentials: H2O

By Ashley Intveld

It’s summer. The sun is shining, the sweat is sticking to the backs of our knees and the creases of our elbows, our eyes squint to block the brilliant rays. We kick our feet up, take a swig of a Belgian ale, and let the droplets from the sprinkler tickle our toes with each rotation. These are the luxuries that come with the dog days, but they wouldn’t be possible with one essential element; an element that’s going without notice as it slowly but surely depletes in both quality and quantity. Without water, summer would not be summer the way we know it.

According to The Record’s article, “Highland streams provide area jobs,” local economies rely primarily on the availability of water from the Highlands. Companies like Mountain Creek, High Point Brewing, and on a larger scale, Anheuser- Busch, who brew up to 7.5 million gallons of Budweiser each year, depend primarily on water. On an even larger scale than beer and water parks, water itself is an essential element of life, last time we checked. For a resource that was once solely a health essential, it has become the backbone of our economy’s well-being, and the supply is suffering immensely from that notion. If the supply suffers, we too will suffer.

The article refers to a deliberation that is being discussed by the Highland Council that may issue new taxes that will limit and regulate water consumption from local business as a means to preserve the precious resource. The first tax will be applied to water-use that will fund key watershed lands. The other is a legislative bill that will permit taxing water users statewide as a means to improve system improvements. Currently opposed by the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the taxes are being conceived as another burden for small business-owners who claim to already be bombarded with taxes as is.

Although some businesses have taken measures toward conservation, there is one perspective that must be switched in order to truly conserve the water of the Highlands region: money is not essential. Money keeps the economy running. Money allows us to buy a beer and drink it by the pool at summer time, but we cannot survive off of money alone. Without water, the things that make us money are impossible to produce, and so a conservation tax is a viable option. The alternative, thus, is to have no business at all.

Water is a readily-available aspect of the American lifestyle. We turn the faucet on and water is literally at our fingertips. It has become an expectation, rather than a privilege, to have water available for our use. The prospect of taxing it, then, becomes an absurd thought- what’s next, taxing air? The issue is this: our businesses do not revolve around the money that comes in. Instead, the money revolves around the availability of water. Water, thus, becomes the primary focal point in this issue.

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