February 24, 2007

Underneath It All

Okay, you're going to have to bear with me for a moment here. The link I'm showing you is a Guatemalan sinkhole. It's pretty eerie, actually, an entire house just disappeared. Two teenaged siblings disappeared with it. Here's a scary picture.

You want to know what a sinkhole in Guatamela has to do with us? Frankly, everything. These things are happening all over the place, from California to Toronto and around the world. Our infrastructure is crumbling, and we're not keeping up with maintaining it. Think about when your city or town was built. Think about the last time anyone went in and replaced all those pipes in the ground.

I know they're kind of the mystery we're built on - the sewage system. Who wants to spend much time thinking about what it actually does? We're happy to consider how we get fresh water when we turn on the tap, less contemplative when we flush the john.

Infrastructure is not sexy. Politicians will only campaign on issues that are sexy. Like gun control and crime and funding for hospitals and schools. Poop takes a little of the sheen off the brochures.

We can marvel at pictures of sinkholes that have swallowed SUVs in California (and quietly applaud?) but the fact remains that we're sitting on a time bomb. Replacing crumbling infrastructure is hugely expensive, and worst of all from a political standpoint, there isn't much of a photo op when you're done. If it's done right, you can't tell.

Check out the age of what's sitting under your home. It's public record. And get on your local representatives to find out what your area has budgeted for maintenance. Even though the ancient Romans had a pretty remarkable system in place around 800 BC, many still used the back up system of opening a window and giving it a toss.

And you thought the neighbour's dog was a problem.


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