In this column, Wayne Nash offers his perspective on water policies.

Some lakes and rivers have sediments made toxic from pollution. Transferring contaminated sediment. Photo courtesy of the U.S. EPA.
I was reading up on the Stronger Clean Water Act - and a bunch of other proposals meant to make our water “safe for the children” - with great interest 'cause everybody wants clean water. At least I thought so until I figured out that anyone who doesn't want a whole bunch of unnecessary government interference in their lives and businesses must want dirtier water. Some of these rocket scientists deserve to be answered by someone outside the Washington beltway who actually is involved with water, in business, and pays taxes.

One of the proposals is to “Establish an enforceable national system to prevent polluted runoff from cities, suburbs, farms, mining/timber operations from going into our rivers, lakes and estuaries.”

Sounds pretty good, right? A “national” system is code for huge federal expenditures that will have to be paid for by the cities, suburbs, farms, mining/timber operations that it claims to help. These are the institutions that make America - and the world - work, and punitive taxation is not the answer. Nobody takes care of property better than the owners. Witness the fine job the Soviets did keeping pollution down on land that belonged to “the people.” As far as “establishing enforcement” goes, passing more unenforceable laws and providing work for lawyers, bureaucrats other assorted tree huggers is about a workable as herding cats.

Here's another whiz-bang idea dreamed up by somebody who doesn't have to pay for it: “... stop the pollution of our rivers, lakes and coastal waters with chemicals that CAN (emphasis mine) cause cancer, birth defects, fertility or learning problems in children whose health effects are not yet known.”

Great. The way I read this, they want to ban EVERYTHING that MIGHT cause a problem down the road, whether it will or not. Reasoning like that would have us living in caves, eating raw meat, because fire is just too dangerous for the uneducated masses. Here's another small lightening of our wallets: “Clean up toxic sediments at the bottom of rivers and lakes that have accumulated through years of pollution and ensure that clean sediments do not become contaminated.”

This is code for another giant government boondoggle. Sure, there are contaminated sediments in some of our rivers, but subsequent sedimentation has, in many cases, covered and encapsulated the pollution. Removal is prohibitively expensive unless someone else is paying for it - guess who - and will ensure the contamination of the surrounding clean sediments. Witness the Hudson River.

Another proposal, probably funded by PETA, or some other lost-as-a-dog-with-a-Bible group wants to “Require factory farms to stop contaminating our rivers, lakes and coastal waters with animal waste.”

I love it. To begin with, the buzzword “factory farm” is one of those words meant to stir up animosity among people who have no idea where their food actually comes from, and that, in order to provide that steak they are eating, some poor, but innocent, dumb cow had to be viciously murdered - with malevolence, I might add. I reality, there already are many laws on the books against feedlot run-off and the like, and they are rigorously enforced. Adding more laws will turn the system into something akin to the situation with our gun laws. Too many laws, and conflicting, or non-existent enforcement, with the end result being increased food costs and more pollution.

Folks like this just love code words - words that have had their original meanings corrupted by political correctness. How cute: “Protect and restore our precious wetlands so that they can filter out harmful pollution before it ever reaches our drinking water, rivers, lakes or beaches.”

This is code for a land grab. These “wetlands” - another code word for swamp, but a lot cuter - are particularly valuable to two main groups. The first group would be the owners, and as such, they know the value of the land because they have bought, paid taxes on and improved it. Restoration translates into uncompensated seizure and is prohibited by the constitution, but this doesn't bother the second group, the environmentalists. Since it isn't their money, or land, they have no problem bankrupting the owner to restore a “vital” habitat for some “split-tailed titmouse” or some other critter that doesn't even vote. Most of the wetlands not already developed already are protected, and more of my money is not necessary for their further protection.

Some dim bulb stayed up nights thinking this one up: “Affirm the citizens' rights to bring citizens' suits to protect wetlands. Another whiz-bang idea. Just what we need: more lawsuits. This is the kind of thinking that encourages lard-butt parents to sue McDonalds because they fed their 10-year old about a million Big Macs, and now the kid is a 300-pound lard-butt, too. If they win, I bet they sue Ford for providing (no doubt) the truck that hauled them down there. The easy cure for this: Change the tort laws so that the loser, instead of the taxpayer, pays. The only problem is that Congress is overrun with lawyers and such a change would cost them a ton of money. This would necessitate a serious reduction in Porches, cruises, girlfriends and a lot of their other lavish perks - never gonna happen.

I've noticed a couple things about the people that propose this sort of legislation. They're real big on energy conservation. They want my service truck to get 65 mpg! Right. What kind of power plant do they envision? Chipmunks? Who's gonna recycle all the chipmunk droppings? I'm sure if one of them ran down the ditch and got in the swamp - oops, wetland - I'd hafta clean up the entire eastern seaboard. Or, we could go back to the old days, for cleaner transportation solutions - like New York City in the year 1900. They had 150,000 horses, each one of which “emitted” 25 pounds of horse$%*# per day. Now, my truck doesn't get the best mileage, but I don't have to shovel up after it, either. The litany of unworkable ideas is stunning, such as produce one-third of our energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar power. Great, except when the wind doesn't blow, or the sun doesn't shine. Windmills are a good idea, except they only work when the wind blows, they take up a lot of space, they are cost prohibitive, and nobody wants one in their backyard. Besides, those well meaning folks in California have discovered that, horrors, birds actually fly into the blades and get killed! The solar power idea is just as brilliant. If we put up a zillion acres of solar panels, at who knows what cost, we could all run an oven bulb all day, while the sun shines, and then go to bed at dark. Personally, I've never liked to watch TV in the dark ... What! You say my TV wouldn't run? That tears it ... .

One thing they are dead-set against is nuclear power -talk about shortsighted, the ONE source that emits NO CO2, doesn't contribute to so-called global warming, and has a better safety record that any other energy source. Goes to show ya, people hate anything they don't understand.

There are two great myths in American life. The first: Elvis still is alive. The second is that there was a time when we were better off than we are now. When you think about it, the first is more believable. We now live longer, have a better standard of living, eat better, work less and generally have it better than at any time in history. Yet there are people who would have us believe that the “big business” that made all this possible, is poisoning us for profit, etc. Sure, there are more cancer cases now, mostly because there are more of us, and now we don't have to worry too much about being scalped by Indians, or eaten by saber-tooth tigers. We simply live long enough to get old-age diseases.

One thing is sure. If we put the “nattering nabobs of negativity” in charge because we haven't educated ourselves well enough to vote wisely - or don't bother to vote - we'll probably get just about what we deserve.

The bottom line is this: Take most of the stuff you read - including me - with a grain of salt, until you figure out what the agenda is.