Trouble, oh we got trouble, right here in River City! With a capital “T” that rhymes with “P”and that stands for P…

 In Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, the sleepy little town of River City is woken up and thrown into a moral panic when Prof. Harold Hill comes to town with a troubling message. The message is proclaimed evocatively in the words of the song, “Ya Got Trouble.” The Trouble (with a capital T) in River City, Iowa according to Prof. Hill was the game of pool that was contaminating the morals of the local boys.

Here in my sleepy little town of Pittsboro, NC nestled along side the Haw River we have our own set of Troubles that rhyme with P. But the game of pool is the least of our concerns. The P that is Troubling wide awake citizens of my town is the Pollutants (emerging contaminants) that are found within the Haw River which serves as our drinking water supply.

As a person of faith concerned with ecological stewardship/justice and public health, and as a member of the Haw River Assembly (HRA) I have known for years about the troubling amounts of unregulated chemicals emanating from up-river point source polluters. That’s why I don’t drink the municipal tap water, but source it instead from a friend’s well. Nevertheless, I still have to bathe and wash with it, and that is troubling in itself.

The Haw River Assembly (click on that link) and our Haw Riverkeepers,  have been waving the red warning flag for years while working with area water quality experts and The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) to advocate for a solution to the problem. Now in 2020 as this advocacy continues, the Town of Pittsboro has created a Water Quality task force with the goal of “identifying needs, and short term and long term solutions to those needs, regarding the public health crisis that is facing the town of Pittsboro, NC, due to emerging contaminants found within the Haw River which serves as the drinking water supply.”

 Our current Haw Riverkeeper, Emily Sutton, is a member of the task force and a primary contributor to the initial report that has recently been prepared for the Mayor and Town Board of Commissioners. Please make time to read this important report HERE. Within the report you will also find the link to the website created by the task force.

Under the heading, Engage Community to Influence Policy, the report states: When it is safe, we also plan to engage the public through in person community outreach forums via churches, schools and neighborhoods. During these forums we will discuss the contaminants, the potential risks, and the direction the town is taking to lessen the risk. The Eco-Justice team of Pittsboro Presbyterian Church will be in contact with Ms. Sutton to offer our assistance in this community outreach effort.

The troubled waters that adversely affect the public health of Pittsboro citizens are unfortunately a microcosm of the lager problem of unregulated and under regulated contaminants polluting waterways and wells across America. In The Music Man Prof. Hill presented the good folks of River City with a troubling problem that contaminated the morals of their youth. As creation justice stewards we first need to realize and confess that allowing and enabling the pollution of public waters, air and land for profit is an act of bending the arc of the moral universe in the wrong direction away from justice. And then we all need to lean hard into bending that arc in the direction that a moral universe demands and deserves.

In these troubling times, may we who are the Church become the bridge over troubled water. Amen.