As seen in USA Today, MSNBC, Dr. Oz, and the Chicago Tribune.

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Does Your Community Care About Clean Water?

That's a fair question.  Ask your community leaders what they know about coal tar sealant pollution and then ask them what they are will...

That's a fair question.  Ask your community leaders what they know about coal tar sealant pollution and then ask them what they are willing to do about it.  Many choose to wait for a federal mandate, but some are willing to push the national agenda from the bottom up.  Waiting is merely denying reality and pushing the hard conversation on to someone else.

We have a history in this country of local community leaders stepping up and doing what is right for their community before being told by a state or federal government.  Many of our nation's first libraries, roads, and treatment works happened because of local initiatives (and often outside of local government).  And that is true of the coal tar sealant issue.

Ask your local elected officials about this.  Keep them accountable and let me know if you need some help.

Speaking of holding people accountable, the following is an editorial which appeared in the Springfield News-Leader (Missouri) that Dan Chiles, a former city councilman wrote earlier this summer in response to, not only the inaction of the local city council, but also the backsliding that some organizations who promised to stop using coal tar sealer have not.  Dan is an example of persistently calling his community to action, not only in the paper, but also behind the scenes.  This is the first of a few editorials Dan has written that I hope to share with you here.  

I left the Springfield City Council to build a solar-powered house on our family farm just west of Springfield.

Just below our deck, each day, a huge spring pours about 3 million gallons of fresh water into the Sac River and then into Stockton Lake for citizens of Springfield to enjoy.

Springfield’s water comes from rain that falls on 640,000 acres mostly to the north and west of town. Missouri law says water belongs to the person who owns the land on top.

Why should thousands of rural residents like me labor to keep our herbicides, motor oil, solvents, sewage, pharmaceuticals, pesticides or worse out of Springfield’s water supply?

Recently, I was driving by Ozarks Technical Community College (OTC) 
and I took pictures of Springfield Striping & Sealing spraying a dark, smelly substance on campus parking lots. I stopped to ask the applicators (working without safety equipment) what they were spraying. “Coal tar,” they said.
We know with scientific clarity that coal tar is toxic waste that causes cancer. We know it gets tracked into homes, hospitals and college classrooms. We know it washes off and goes downstream into our precious springs, streams, lakes and rivers. Does Springfield care?

On any given day you can see toxic coal tar being sprayed on parking lots all over town: many thousands of pounds per year. It’s cheap because toxic waste costs less to spray on playgrounds than to dispose of properly.

Its rich, dark color reminds me of sun lotion ads from 30 years ago before we understood skin cancer.

We know that people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Should people who drink fresh water upstream spew toxic waste downstream?

When I was on City Council, OTC promised it would stop sending toxic coal tar waste into the waters of the downstream Jordan Valley. Now it is backsliding. Maybe its leaders think Springfield doesn’t care.

I’ll call to schedule a brief presentation to City Council to show members the photographs and to remind them of the peer-reviewed scientific studies they have collected and commissioned with taxpayer dollars.

On behalf of the rural neighbors who control the quality of Springfield’s water supply I will ask: “Why should we care if Springfield doesn't care?”

Dan Chiles served on the Springfield City Council 2007-11.  This editorial was reprinted with the permission of Dan Chiles and the Springfield News-Leader.

Related posts:

Show-Me State Study: Coal Tar Sealants Pervasive Stream Problem
Can the Coal Tar Sealant Issue Mar a Community's Reputation?

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Coal Tar Free America: Does Your Community Care About Clean Water?
Does Your Community Care About Clean Water?
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Coal Tar Free America
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