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Time to talk about state of our water

By Devin Dabney and Tamzin Walters, Field Hosts, White River Alliance’s “The Collective Tap” Podcast

How often do you think about water?

Even though this resource is essential for keeping life on earth alive, it’s a daily necessity many of us don’t pay much attention to. And yet, water is part of nearly everything we do.

We use it for cleaning, cooking and recreating. It’s embedded in our roads and manufactured goods. It’s even involved each time we charge our cell phones.

Through conversations with a variety of professionals — lawyers, utility managers, scientists, farmers and even brewers — we’ve learned how important this resource truly is and how our water usage connects our communities.

These conversations came together to form “The Collective Tap,” a podcast created by The White River Alliance, the premier organization for regional water resource protection and conservation in Indiana.

Each season serves as an ongoing discussion about the state of our water, exploring how it’s used, the systems it’s part of and what we can do collectively to improve it.

In the first season, we focused on ways water is used in the average household, including the link between water and hygiene and the studies being done to assess and improve existing infrastructure.

When thinking about a green lawn, we asked whether it’s worth the cost and examined how equity and utility rates collide. Unfortunately, we pay for these green lawns even if we don’t have one to water. We looked at key pollutants that are (and aren’t) regulated in the water supply; we tracked our own water usage then actually tried to reduce it.

Our second season looks at how water is used in food and beverage production.

We spoke with soft drink distributors and creators of our favorite Indiana libations, traveling to distilleries, breweries and bottling plants to discuss their operations.

We spoke with a farmer with a practical, pro-profit methodology of environmentally-conscious farming. Researchers from Purdue University helped us delve into the impacts of climate change on farming and our water supply, and we learned how a broad coalition of groups are working together to protect our water.

In the upcoming third season, discussions will center around the hidden life of water and how water systems invisibly impact our society, from manufacturing and energy production to the economy.

Not only is water crucial to Indiana’s economy, but it’s also one of its largest assets for attracting new business. The intersections of water and environmental justice will also be discussed, as well as how water pollution has historically (and often by design) had a disproportionate impact on America’s most marginalized people.

In the final season, we will explore being on the water, how we build (or don’t build) community at the shoreline, the wide world of water recreation and the relationship between water and wildlife.

Conversations will also take place with Native leaders to learn about the relationship between our local waters and indigenous communities.

After spending months speaking with water experts and learning about our water systems, one takeaway shouldn’t be surprising: water is our most critical resource, and we need to pay attention to how we interact with it.

This is particularly true as climate change accelerates and the future of water quality and availability is increasingly uncertain.

To hear all the surprising takeaways, the community must listen. After all, it’s time we all start to think — and talk — about water.

For more information about “The Collective Tap,” visit your preferred podcast platform and join the conversation on social media @thecollectivetap on Facebook and Instagram and @thecollectivetp on Twitter.

Visit thewhiteriveralliance.org to learn more about what the organization is doing to address Indiana water issues and educate the community.

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