The following is the talk presented by Barbara Harmony at the 4th World Water Forum held March 16 to March 20, 2006 in Mexico City.Sacred Water
I am from Eureka Springs, Arkansas, a town founded on healing Springs, in the center of the United States. I represent two groups here: The National Water Center, our small local group, and the Water Committee of the Continental Bioregional Congress.
Bioregionalists believe that we need to base our lives and culture on the places where we live and its geographical, geological, biological parameters rather than on arbitrary political boundaries and borders. We believe in the principles of local sustainable action, appropriate technology and nonviolence to our life systems
We have approached the appreciation of water in many different ways. This morning I would like to ask you to join me in a water journey made over the last 25 years. First, we will visualize the water in a relaxing manner, trying to feel ourselves as 70% water. Then I will ask you to look at the hard water issues in front of us as they have been distilled by the Water Committee of the Continental Bioregional Congresses since 1984. Finally, I would like to tell you about our experiences thanking, and being present, to the water. The water is living, wanting to be known.
So first, I am going to ask you to close your eyes and visualize a place near my home. Breathe deeply, picture yourself walking along a path in the forest that smells of pine. Along the ground is a wonderful variety of flowers, mushrooms and moss. The path starts to slope down toward a creek. Take in the wonder of the limestone outcroppings and overhangs. You come to the creek and jump from stone to stone. Breathe again deeply. Now imagine that you are at the source of the creek, a beautiful natural spring and pool. Dip into the water. It is cool and refreshing. Cup your hands and take a drink. The water tastes sweet. Notice as it moves through your body. It feels so nice and cool as it drips off your fingers. The water is so inviting, you decide to swim. As you dive in, feel the rush of energy as your body is immersed in cool water. Every cell of your body feels completely alive. The water swirls around your feet. It is circling around you and you feel your muscles relax.
In the swirling and circling water, let go of tension and breathe. Notice that as your body adjusts to the water temperature, you feel the water in your body blending with the water outside your body. Float along supported by the gently moving water. Think of the ways that you have enjoyed water that it is part of your life. Your friends are 70% water; the trees are 90% water. The air has water. See what comes to mind. Notice you are one with the water. Notice the feelings in your body. Let your worries go like leaves floating past you downstream. Think of your earliest memory of water. Feel the water in your blood and in your cells. Keeping in mind that you are a part of the water cycle, breathe again deeply and when you are ready, open your eyes feeling very relaxed and refreshed.
When the Water Committee met initially at the first Continental Bioregional Congress in May of 1984, water workers from across the continent designed a platform and wrote resolutions. We determined that Water is the basis of life on the planet and the primary organizing force of the bioregion. We promised to found a Bioregional Water Network with Water Committee Members collecting and disseminating information. We were happy to learn the good water practices of Bioregionalists across the continent.
Our PHILOSOPHY was summed up:
Water for life.
Begin the Blue Movement.
We are Water-borne creatures filled with the Water of life.
Water created first life, and all life still begins from the Water.
Water in its natural state has been damaged.
Let us heal the water.
We came to realize that as we heal ourselves we heal the water. This thought had been summed up in the National Water Center Proclamation, “As the air is the living breath of our planet and the trees are its breathing, the Earth’s Waters are its living blood, coursing through its streams with a flow as vital to us as the blood running in our veins…
“Through all our lives, the Waters have sustained, nurtured and healed our bodies and spirits. To use the Waters as a carrier and dump for “waste” nutrients is a deep wrong which impoverishes the land, and brings sickness both to Water and to us as we participate in this injustice.”
We must realize that though we continually strive to develop new technologies to deal with our problems, the greatest innovation is conservation. “All over the Earth, the rivers, lakes, and oceans have struggled to cleanse themselves of our thankless waste, but can do so no longer by themselves. We must join them to conserve, protect and HEAL THE WATERS.
Most recently, in July of 2005, there was a Continental Bioregional Congress held in Earthhaven, an eco-village in North Carolina in the United States. These were the WATER RESOLUTIONS as they were passed by the full Congress
All people have a right to clean water. Water should not be commodified or privatized.
Water is best protected by local conscious communities.
We oppose over-development of watersheds, destructive logging, and destruction of habitat.
We support replanting of native vegetation.
We support catchments of rainwater and water conservation and protection by agriculture, industry, and households. We support use of renewable energies.
In small human-made dams for power, flood prevention, or water storage - fish and silt must get through and people affected must be involved. We oppose large dams.
Full Version of Water Resolution proposed by the Water Committee (based on Cochabamba Declaration, which was ratified by the Continental Bioregional Congress in 2003; also summarizes previous CBC Water Committee resolutions):Preamble:
Since water is life, let us give thanks to the water every time we drink and use it, recognizing water as a gift and blessing. Water belongs to the earth and all species and is sacred to life, therefore, the world’s water must be conserved, reclaimed and protected for all future generations and its natural patterns respected. All forms of water in the ground, the air, and on the land are connected. There is no new water; it is a closed system, which for eons has had a natural cleansing process - a process which we should not disturb.
1. Protection and conservation
Because we seek protection for water at its source, we oppose logging and over-development of watersheds and support the replanting of trees to protect streams from sedimentation and land from erosion, and restore the natural hydrological cycle based on transpiration from trees. We support citizen monitoring of waterways for greater awareness of water’s health.
We support catchments of rainwater, conserving water through water saving appliances, and advocate use of dry composting toilets, cleaning and reusing wastewater with biological methods, and release of water without damage to the environment. We oppose using water as a carrier of waste.
We recommend that agricultural policy mandate installation of drip irrigation to conserve 60% of their current water use and improve yields while protecting soil from salinization.
We recommend that industry adopt a zero emissions policy requiring treatment and recycling of the waste stream to prevent pollution from entering the air and waterways.
We oppose ground and surface water pollution from toxic rain, soil erosion, agricultural runoff, draining of marshes and channelization, municipal waste water, landfills for municipal or toxic waste, dumps for radioactive waste, deep well injection of hazardous waste, depletion of aquifers, or any other degradation of water.
We seek protection for the fragile interfaces between water and land: the coastal zone including estuaries, coral reefs and the outer continental shelf, as well as wetlands.
When dams are necessary for small hydroelectric power generation, flood prevention, or water storage, provision must be made for fish and silt to get through. People affected by dam building must be consulted, compensated, and given a share in the benefits. We oppose large hydroelectric facilities, which damage ecosystems and people.
2. Opposing privatization
Water is a fundamental human right and a public trust to be guarded by all levels of government; therefore, it should not be commodified, privatized or traded for commercial purposes. These rights must be enshrined at all levels. In particular, an international treaty must ensure all people on Earth have a right to water regardless of ability to pay, and all beings have a right to water.
We oppose use of bottled water, because it promotes privatization and contributes huge amounts of waste plastic to the natural environment and landfills; bottled water is not as regulated as tap water and is often less safe.
3. Other Policies
We are already seeing increased frequency and severity of storms, droughts, floods, rising oceans, and desertification. The burning of fossil fuels is the major cause of climate change. The most vulnerable are impoverished and indigenous peoples. We support developing renewable energies such as solar, wind, biomass and small hydro, in order to protect the natural water cycle. Fossil fuels such as coal and oil and all their byproducts are a major source of water pollution.
We should consider the present importation of water as a carrying capacity indicator of the whole watershed. Other indicators include: inches of rainfall (potential catchments), groundwater, and surface water.
Water is best protected by local communities and citizens who must be respected as equal partners with water managing entities in the protection, provision, and regulation of water. Peoples of the earth are the only vehicle to promote earth democracy and save water.
In 1986 and 1988 Water Committee meetings, we had talked about the many problems occurring worldwide with water. I knew that I could not continue that way.
When the Water Committee met at the fourth Continental Bioregional Congress in 1990 on the Gulf of Maine it was agreed that we should give thanks to the Water. The morning the plenary session was to open; the Water Committee met on the banks of Lake Cobboseecontee and gave thanks to the water. The group joined the plenary session, bringing with us the purity and strength of purpose that we received from the water. The resolution from the water committee for that Congress was
has given and given.
Now it is time
to give thanks
to the Water.
When the Water Committee met on the Guadalupe River in the Hill Country of Texas at the 5th Turtle Island Bioregional Gathering each person told about their water work. We then sat in silence in the circle as it rained for about 4 minutes, the same amount of time each person had spoken. It was also at that Congress that in a particularly moving session, where each person was speaking from her heart, it rained lightly indoors. Another acknowledgement from the water.
In 1996, at the first Bioregional Gathering of the Americas, held in Tepozlan there was a good exchange of Water Information. It covered a wide range of experiences. One particular story was of the Sherpa’s who guide mountain climbers in the Himalayas and their ability to control weather.
Once again, it was remembered and noted that all forms of Water, in the ground, on the land, and in the air are connected. It is a closed system. There is no new Water. Water speaks a universal language of oneness and sustains all life.
In Eureka Springs, we began to meet at the Springs on a regular basis. At our www.planetaryhealer.net
website we invited others to join us in a project to give thanks to the water bimonthly at the New and Full Moons. We wrote that our monthly 5 minute meditations of love, appreciation and gratitude, while asking the water to carry our prayers and to wash away illusions of separation could be done individually or in groups.
These thoughts for the Springs along with a Springs Committee of the Eureka Springs Parks and Recreation Commission that is currently prioritizing critical Spring Recharge Areas is making a difference to heal the Healing Springs
I want to take this opportunity to also mention our www.nationalwatercenter.org
website. I hope that we will be able to stay in contact. Also, I would like to take this opportunity to let you know that there will be bioregional presentations at Espejo de Agua on Saturday.
Let’s give thanks to the water every time we drink and use it.
We are water-borne creatures; all life still begins from the water. Water is life.