By Rev. Dario Barolin
The third reflection of the "Seven Weeks for Water", of World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Water Network, is by Rev. Dr Dario Barolin, a pastor of the Waldensian Church in Uruguay. He is also the executive secretary of AIPRAL, the Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in Latin America. In the following reflection he recalls an encounter with two youths of his church who are trying to revive a creek which has lost its freshness due to water pollution by industries. He then draws a parallel to the story of Exodus where Moses turns the bitter water of Marah into sweet, fresh water with the help of a plant, thereby implying plantation being key to watershed.
Uruguay established in 2009 the National Water Policy through the law 18,610. This law clearly emphasizes “the sustainable management, in solidarity with future generations, of water resources and the preservation of the hydrological cycle that constitutes matters of general interest.” However, a different reality emerges when we take a closer look at many rivers, creeks, lakes, etc. in our country.
Leticia and Juan are working hard to plant a dozen native trees on the shore of a small creek. The creek does not look good; it is sick, just like many of the rivers and streams of water in Uruguay. They are suffering direct aggression from agro-industrial wastes, especially pesticides that bring a high level of phosphorus in the water. In addition, in most of the cases the urban waste is directly sent to rivers without any kind of treatment. This process of sickening watersheds is reinforced through a constant practice of destruction of the native forest and vegetation. On top of all these, recently, the congress approved a law on irrigation (law 19,553) that will negatively affect the health of the watershed.