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AS LONG AS THE WATER FLOWS

To some the earth is not for sale,
But the companies have bought her;
And their profits say uranium is
More valuable than water.
Thereís not much fresh groundwater here,
One percent or so,
As long as the water flows.

The uranium is in the rocks
Where fresh groundwaterís found,
So they pump the water from the rocks
And dump it on the ground,
Because the water rushes through the shafts
When high explosives blow,
As long as the water flows.

Should I survive a normal lifetime,
When the mining is complete
I may see the water table dropped
By several thousand feet.
The mining towns already take
Their drinking water from the Navajo,
As long as the water flows.

Why donít they drink the water
Which is now evaporated?
They cannot clean it up
Because itís too contaminated;
And if they put it to beneficial use
Theyíd need a permit to do so,
As long as the water flows.

But if the water is not put to use,
No permit is required
By the New Mexico State Engineer;
Perhaps he should be fired.
Unauthorized, wasteful, or non-beneficial
Use is deemed a crime,
But you will not see the company
Officials doing time.

He says it is not wasteful
Because the mines are necessary;
And itís not unauthorized
Because it does not run contrary
To orders of the State Engineer,
A good old boy of sorts,
But these are only his opinions
Which have not been brought to court.

For each eleven gallons
There are fourteen parceled out,]
Although we know the Navajo
And Pueblo were left out.
As the dams evaporate whatís left
Thereís too much salt for crops to grow,
As long as the water flows.

Irrigation rights must be retired,
Says the State Engineer,
To serve the mining interests
Because thereís not much farming here.
Thatís a self-fulfilling prophecy,
For crops will only grow
As long as the water flows.

Prior, valid and existing rights
To water are impaired.
There is no right to discharge water,
But the Engineer does not care.
If we donít like it, we must go to court,
While uranium mining grows,
As long as the water flows.

Black Hills, South Dakota, 1979




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