Water Matters (Boy Does It!)

Water Matters (Boy Does It!)

As I wrap up my tenure here at HCFM, I wanted to share one of the really cool things that I’ve been pleased to witness. For the last several weeks, I’ve been attending, with about two dozen other concerned citizens, Spartanburg Water’s “Water Matters” classes. We have been going through the inner workings of Spartanburg Water, learning about its history, its vision for the future, and yes, we’ve learned a great deal about “why the water tastes so funny.”

I applied to take the classes because I am deeply concerned about water issues. My wife is from Los Angeles, where water is a constant concern. My father-in-law worked for LA County for years in the water department. In my 15 years in the wine business, water was always an important factor in grape farming. I found over my years in the Upstate few people discussed water issues, but I could always count on Spartanburg Water’s CEO Sue Schneider to be on the forefront of any discussion regarding it. With my work around local agriculture, I thought it was important to learn as much as I could about our local watershed.

Boy, have I learned! Each week has been packed full of information, and you realize very quickly the vast work Spartanburg Water does. It’s not “just” our tap water, or for industry, or fire-fighting, but they are also heavily involved in watershed management, hydro-electric power, public space development at Lake Bowen and Lake Blalock, and yes, agriculture. I have come away both impressed and appreciative of the work they do, and realize more than ever we have to make some tough choices about our water infrastructure in years to come. But I am also particularly pleased to see how Spartanburg Water maintains a close tie to our community’s past, its history, while planning for a very different future.

Oh, and the funny taste and odor in the water? It’s from a specific kind of algae bloom. It will dissipate over time, but I have also learned that a lot of it can be caused, or at least exacerbated, by the use of fertilizer and other nutrients added in, wait for it, gardening and farming. Sounds like another reason to spread the gospel on low impact farming, organic gardening, and use of permaculture practices! It makes for a neat bow around my career at Hub City Farmers’ Market.

I highly recommend applying for this course when it is offered next!