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Water Bored

I cannot believe the frawfrawlaw that developed over the Kent County Water Authority's recent E coli incident. As far as I can see, the only difference with Kent County having one is it's their first. Certainly no one raised this much stink when North Kingstown had to boil their water regularly over the past few decades. I think they might have gotten on top of it now with their new tank, but it was a regular event hardly worth mentioning anywhere in the state but North Kingstown. Block Island had a big old water tank with no top on it and it was said to have bird fecal matter and even a few bird bodies floating in it occasionally. No one died. No one got sick that we know of. All better now with their new tank, of course.

It's not unusual for suburban and rural Rhode Island to have less than pure water. A good portion of it comes from wells. Not Kent County though. Historically, cesspool pumpers and outhouse men often spread out the day's collection on their gardens and fields. It might not go on here any longer but it's common in third world countries.

The amount of bacteria in the Kent County system was restricted to one tank and the small amount of water that came out of it before it was detected and the tank was quarantined for testing. Just how far down the pipe did it get? I haven't heard that answered in all the noise.

East Greenwich is said to be the home town of Mr. John DePetro, the talk show host on WPRO in the morning 9-12. Well no, it's MY hometown, he only lives here. When you run, as he does, a regular radio talk show, you have to have something to talk about. It surely must have been a toothless morning because the coliform in the KCWA vat became an event of epic proportions.

I routinely switch to DePetro after Imus until the first time he says “Governor Gump” and then I shut the radio off. That Governor Gump nonsense is getting pretty old. Someone wrongly stated that the Governor's house was on well water and he had no stake in the matter. DePetro picked it up, made it a fact, and ranted about it as though it was. The Governor lives on Potowomut Neck and the only people who have wells on Potowomut Neck use it for lawns. In 1950, I lived in the house now owned by the Governor and I can tell you then it really was well water and well water on Potowomut Neck tasted metallic and always made me nauseous. It never bothered Charlie Preble but I didn't like it. I suppose the Gubernatorial digs in Exeter are on well water but that's not Kent County, is it. No.

Then Mr. D has a guy dying or made more sick at Kent Hospital because of his lack of a viable immune system. Perhaps, but the news that evening showed the hospital routinely has a warehouse stacked full with bottled water. Nonetheless if John DePetro, the Independent Man, says it's so, it must be so. The only Independent Man in Rhode Island years ago climbed up on the Marble Palace dome and turned to bronze to get away from it all. He looks out over the state from up there going “tsk! tsk!”

I suppose it is inevitable — and rightly so — that new regulations will require more immediate public notifications when the water supply is in jeopardy. Certainly any contamination is undesirable at the least and dangerous at the worst. We should be informed as soon as possible. The thing is, we have been dealing with these sort of things since the founding of the public water supply. Nothing new here. The KCWA has an excellent record of providing some of the finest water in the country and instead of denigrating and chastising the outfit, a bit of constructive discussion is more the requirement of the day. As they said, they did what was required and many feel that the requirements should be upgraded. Wonderful! Let's do it. One more law, like a pebble on a beach, will not hurt. But let's do something new: when a new law is enacted, let's get rid of an old one. Keep the book the same size. Novel, eh?

Perhaps the silliest part of all this is the waste of media time when the biggest engineering event of its kind in the history of mankind is taking place in Italy right now with the uprighting of the good ship Costa Concordia and I can't find anything on it. News today is the dull vacuous space between furniture and car ads, ambulance chasing lawyer ads, and ads for the stuff that makes facial bumps and belly fat go away.

And the Journal just laid off 40 more people? Good grief!!

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Mark Thompson September 27, 2013 at 08:45 AM
Column: Good. "I lived in the house now owned by the Governor." Priceless.
Alan Clarke September 27, 2013 at 01:15 PM
True story. Back then few lived year round in Bay Ridge. The house was owned by the Sharpe family and handled by Ray Crompton. My family rented it for the summer. Great house, waterfront, walk-out basement, double lot. It has been enlarged since 1950, of course. We could have bought it for $5,000 at the time. Who knew it would become so valuable? We grossly underestimated the value of waterfront property in the times ahead,
Elizabeth A Baker September 30, 2013 at 03:39 PM
Alan, You have a way with words and I agree with all that you said...I did not hear about it until I a message from the town of EG..I had been drinking the water for a couple of days and I am still here...good way to get rid of all that Bottle Water in Store's....

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