Look, I know the few folks who still work at The State — or perhaps I should say work for The State, since it’s no longer so much a place to be at — don’t spend a bunch of time thinking about the print version.
I don’t even subscribe to it myself, preferring my iPad. But I do interact through the e-edition, which as you may know presents the content through electronic versions of the actual pages of the print version. I do this because I’m an old front-page editor going back more than 40 years, so whether a story is played on the front, and how it’s played on the front, still means something to me. Even when it doesn’t mean much to the editors putting it there. (Yes, I know that’s illogical, but there it is.)
Anyway, this morning, it really struck me that in that print edition, this story by my old friend Sammy Fretwell — headlined “Water-gulping farms face tighter controls as groundwater levels drop in central SC” — was badly underplayed. An excerpt:
South Carolina’s environmental protection board voted Thursday to place controls on huge farms and industries east of Columbia that withdraw large amounts of groundwater, a measure taken in response to dwindling water levels in parts of the state.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control board’s unanimous vote will require major groundwater users in six counties, including Richland and Sumter, to tell the public about their plans to siphon water and to get permits from the agency before making withdrawals. The rules apply to anyone withdrawing 3 million gallons or more per month….
“Dwindling water levels in parts of the state” sort of grabbed me. So did “3 million gallons or more per month.” Later, Sammy uses the word “billions” in describing the overall problem. As a guy who hesitates to turn on sprinklers in the yard (I mean, won’t that make the grass grow even more?), that’s an impressive number.
But I guess, on an emotional level, what grabbed me most was this:
At least nine organizations and local governments recently urged DHEC to impose the rules to protect groundwater needed by smaller farms, industries and public water systems in the six-county area, in addition to large farms…
Hang on. I mean, this or that farmer saying to another, “I need the water more than you do” is one thing, and a thing regarding which different sides might be taken. But public water systems? As in, someone goes to turn on the tap in kitchen and nothing comes out? Whoa…
You know, if that’s what it means. I guess I should ask Sammy.
Here’s the thing: As a guy who is far, far less concerned (if at all) about our planet’s growing population than our friend Bud, I rely — as do we all — on a certain amount of large-scale modern farming.
But maybe we should, as a society, go about growing that food — and fiber, and whatever — somewhat more intelligently.
Anyway, I thought it deserved to be brought to people’s attention a bit more prominently. It’s something we should talk about. I don’t want to live in a Dust Bowl…