Recently, I mentioned to a couple of Petalumans that the waters that ebb and flow through their town are polluted—and watched them wince visibly. Ducking the facts won’t help to save the waters, the watershed and the wetlands. To protect the environment, it’ll help to know its history. For much of the past, humans haven’t cared a BLEEP about the beauty of the place. They widened what was once called a creek, dredged it and straightened it so boats could move up and down quickly. Time was money. They also filled in parts of the creek, and built docks and wharfs to unload and reload quickly.
The citizens who want to “Save the Petaluma River” are my friends. Those in the know, however, usually refer to it as a tidal slough. Of course, “river” sounds sexier. If we’re going to preserve it, we might recognize that the tidal slough is sadly polluted, that it’s the most heavily polluted of all the waterways that flow into San Pablo Bay, that it has an excess of nitrogen, hot spots of copper and nickel, and low dosages of oxygen, which isn’t good for fish.
We ought to make this place into a genuine national treasure. To do that, we’ll have to take individual responsibility for the environment. There’s too much pollution from cars and too much BLEEP from dogs that ends up in the tidal slough. I would hate to be up BLEEP’s creek without a paddle. To preserve the watershed we’ll have to start by being more conscious than we are now of the water we waste, the trash we manufacture, the toxins we add to the air and the earth.
Hey, slow down, slow is beautiful. It might even be sexier.
Jonah Raskin lives in Santa Rosa and writes about the environment.
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