At Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp, we work to experience Christ’s grace though meaningful relationships, shared adventure, and purposeful service. With the lake at the center of our community, water plays a central role in our mission. Last year, we explored the connections between our Lutheran Christian faith and God’s gift of water. We explored how we are nourished though the waters of our baptism, and how we live out our life as baptized children of God, caring for all creation.
A basic value we can all share, regardless of political leaning, is protecting clean, safe water for our communities. Yet somehow this is proving difficult for policymakers in Washington, D.C. Right now, Congress is considering deep cuts to the budgets for agencies charged with protecting our water.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), established in 1970 by President Richard Nixon with bipartisan support, has a mission to protect human health and the environment. It is the primary government entity responsible for implementing the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act. These two laws help ensure that our water supply is clean and reliable. They establish the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States as well as uphold quality standards for surface waters.
Rooted in our commitments to justice and compassion, faith communities mobilized across the country to help during the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The water crisis in Flint revealed how communities of color and impoverished communities suffer disproportionately from neglecting to prioritize safe water. It is the work of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Justice to recognize and mitigate economic and racial inequities, yet this office also could face deep cuts. The Flint water crisis also continues to show us the magnitude of private charity necessary to mitigate the harm of penny-wise and pound-foolish policy makers.
In addition, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund are critical, providing matching funds for state and municipal agencies to maintain water quality. These Funds will need billions of dollars in the coming decades to maintain the current high levels of water quality in the United States.
We are fortunate in the United States to have a relative abundance of safe water. I just returned from Palestine, where I learned about the effects of harmed water systems on the people there. Communities are cut off from water sources; the Dead Sea is receding rapidly, as the flow of the Jordan River has been reduced in its flow into the Sea. Humans make a huge impact on water for better or worse.
Water safety protections must be expanded, rather than reduced. The pollution of waterways and the erosion of critical water infrastructure are increasingly threatening public health.
Together as God’s children, let us work and pray to make water a source of life for all. When we do, we are following Jesus’ example to care for all God’s children.