Plant dedication is a reminder that water is a gift

From Where I Sit ... By Avis Anderson
Sunday, August 8, 2021
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What a pleasure! To be involved in the dedication of the new water treatment plant was the end of a huge undertaking for the City of Glendive. It follows the waste treatment center of a couple years ago. Because these facilities are tucked back off the main street and because their development has taken many years both in the planning and construction phases it is easy for them to get lost in other activities.

But today walking around the various buildings and looking at the water flowing into the facility, through the settling ponds and out for Glendive citizenry to use is amazing. It took great foresight to lay out the plan and bring it to fruition. Glendive now will have plenty of clean, drinkable water for over 50 years and more to come.

The water is tested every hour for its ph level. The plant manager said the water can change very quickly depending on where the water is coming from — snow melt, rain, etc. It is a science, bringing clean water to a community and we are privileged to have the best. At Glendive’s founding in 1881, people got their water from the Yellowstone River. Someone would haul it out in barrels and then walk around and sell it. Typhoid fever was a frequent visitor to the community coming as it did from water that was not purified. To see this new facility and then to consider our water supply 150 years ago is to be overwhelmed by what we have. Many communities in Montana are on water rationing but that is a problem Glendive will not face for many years.

Looking at the pure drinking water, tested and filtered and made available to the community is to be reminded of the millions of people who cannot trust their water. In our own country we have the example of Flint, Michigan, the many Indian reservations which do not have available drinking water and the polluted water that creeps in to many poor communities. Then we go to third world nations where wells are not available and whether in Africa, South America or Asia people walk many miles and carry water for their needs. Traveling through parts of India in the 1970s, large ponds in farming villages had cattle standing in one end of the pond and women washing their dishes at the other end without any kind of filter system. In many inland villages women carried water in pots on top of their heads and walked for many miles to bring it home. During the monsoon season the ocean fish catches could not be eaten because of water pollution. Children played in water where the dishes and the clothes were washed and garbage and algae floated on top of the same water. Bottled drinking water was the only really safe water one could find and that was in the cities.

In this day and age unpolluted water, air and soil are not to be taken lightly. Tainted water is something this community has dealt with in the not so distant past and we must constantly be on guard. Indian communities fighting against pipelines going under or through their water sources are concerned about the dangers this may bring to their water supply. Big companies are quick to use political and legal methods to push the pipelines through.

If nothing else, this new water plant is a reminder that clean municipal water is not a right, but rather a service provided by city government. Water is a gift for us to cherish, take care of and not take for granted. This water treatment facility and its staff work quietly and steadily and will fortunately be with us for many years to come.

Avis R. Anderson is a retired member of the Glendive community. Her online blog can be found at