Planet Earth: Our Loving Home
Commissioner Frank Avila:Protecting Water Resources from Pollution      
Greetings, green viewers to today’s episode of Planet Earth: Our Loving Home featuring an interview with Commissioner Frank Avila of the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, USA about water quality, conservation, and protection.

Commissioner Avila, a vegan, worked as a professional engineer and land surveyor for 40 years. Then in 2002 he was elected to the Board and for the past eight years has strived to provide safe water for the five-million residents of Cook County, Illinois, USA. Commissioner Avila also produces and hosts the TV program, “Commissioner Frank Avila Speaks,” which examines such important issues of our day as environmental protection, public health, and organic farming.

The overall responsibility is: One, we treat wastewater. Two, we protect our water supply. What’s our water supply? Lake Michigan. We have to ensure that no one is polluting Lake Michigan. We manage flooding. We have control over storm water management here in Cook County. These are the functions that we do.

As part of its mission, the Board also focuses on water conservation. In the USA, average residential outdoor water use, such as watering lawns and plants, accounts for nearly 30% of total residential water usage, with it being nearly 60% in California, USA. Across the world rainwater harvesting is gaining popularity as a way to address water shortages that nearly all nations are facing due to climate change. Harvesting can also prevent municipal drainage systems from flooding and protect streams and rivers from runoff pollution.

What we're doing here at the District is we’re trying to conserve water. We’re selling 55-gallon rain barrels that our residents could buy from us at a very nominal fee. When it rains, the water will come down the downspout into the rain barrel. They could use that water to water their lawn, their plants, because really that water is sufficient, instead of using the drinking water that they have in their house, they can conserve water that way.

Do you need to take a shower for five minutes or 10 minutes? No, you don't need to take that water. When you brush your teeth, turn off the faucet. We need to help the water to survive. We, the human beings, need to help water. The water is helping us to live, so in turn, we should help the water.

The Board is a world leader in wastewater management as the Commissioner now explains.

My duties as a commissioner are to set policies, procedure, and approve contracts to protect our water environment here in Cook County. We have seven wastewater plants here in Cook County. Three are the largest in the United States. And one is the largest in the world. We have people from all over the world come and see how we treat wastewater. What is wastewater? Wastewater is human waste, industrial waste, and storm water that comes into our system.

Water pollution is one of the most serious problems humanity faces. In many nations untreated sewage and toxins from industrial and agricultural operations contaminate water bodies and cause serious health conditions and fatalities. The United Nations Children's Fund and the World Health Organization estimate that nearly a billion people lack access to safe water and 2.5 billion lack adequate sanitation.

Adequate sanitation is defined as having a sanitary facility that ensures hygienic separation of human waste from human contact. Globally, one child under the age of five dies from a waterborne disease every 20 seconds, with 43% of all water-related deaths due to diarrhea.

The health risk is that you could get diarrhea, skin fungus, fever, tiredness, worms, (and) hepatitis. If we don’t have clean water, this could occur. People in the third world countries are dying because they don’t have clean water. They could have some of these types of diseases that I just mentioned.

Human are not the only ones who depend on clean water sources to survive. The health of global freshwater ecosystems reflects the overall health of our Earth. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, from 1970 to 1999, the Freshwater Species Population Index, which measures the average change over time in the populations of 194 species of freshwater birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish from across the globe, fell by nearly 50%.

As a human being we need what? We need water, air and food to live. It’s the same thing with the aquatic life. They need dissolved oxygen, they need food, and they need water to live. And that’s how you could determine the (environmental) quality of the planet also.

Many are not aware that of the detrimental impact of cosmetics and medicines entering our water bodies. It has been demonstrated that these substances harm the reproductive capacity of some fish species and many instances of mutated amphibians and birds have been found as well.

When you intake pharmaceutical drugs, it doesn’t absorb in your body. It eliminates from your waste. It goes into our wastewater plants. It goes back into the environment, our personal care products, what you put on your skin. There’s a book out there called “Toxic Beauty.” What that means is that we all want to look beautiful. So we put toxic chemicals on ourselves so (that) we can look gorgeous.

This is toxic; when you take a shower, it comes into our system. Then, what happens in our system? It combines in our system and it’ll form a new compound, a synthetic compound that is harmful for the environment.

After this brief message, we’ll return with more from our interview with Commissioner Frank Avila about Earth’s precious water. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

Welcome back to Planet Earth: Our Loving Home here on Supreme Master Television. Our program today features a talk with Commissioner Frank Avila of the Board of Commissioners of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, USA about water conservation and protection.

Oceanic dead zones, where fish and other marine life cannot survive, are created by the condition of “hypoxia” or reduced dissolved oxygen content. The wastewater from factory farms is continuously increasing the size of the approximately 18,000 square kilometer dead zone at the Gulf of Mexico, one of the largest dead zones in the world

When we treat our wastewater in one of our seven plants, we treat it and we’ll discharge that into the Des Plaines River. From the Des Plaines River, it goes into the Illinois River. From the Illinois River it goes into the Mississippi (River). And the Mississippi (River) goes down into the Gulf of Mexico.

So what we do here up in Cook County might have an effect all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. So that’s why we have to make sure that the way we treat our wastewater is sufficient (and) that we don’t create any pollutants as it travels along down the Gulf of Mexico. What do you have at the end of the Gulf of Mexico? A dead zone the size of the state of Massachusetts (USA)!

Now what is creating this dead zone? You have dissolved oxygen, algae, and as the river is traveling to the Gulf of Mexico what do you have alongside of it? Rural communities, right? And what are they having in these rural communities? They’ve got livestock and crops.

In the US, 70% of all antibiotics produced annually are used on livestock. As the animals are made to live in utterly filthy and dangerous disease laden conditions, one reason the industry uses the drugs is to keep the animals alive until the time of slaughter. This abusive practice not only breeds antibiotic-resistant bacteria but also devastates our water supply and the oceans.

They found out that these antibiotics will increase the weight of your livestock. So, now the majority of our pharmaceutical drugs, our antibiotics, you would think would go towards the human being to make them healthy, but a large percentage of that will go to livestock. So, the key is on the livestock, no one checks and treats their manure.

I think we’re giving the antibiotics and steroids to beef them up faster to bring them to the market. When they eliminate their waste, they stay in the manure. When it rains, the runoff all goes into the streams and also this has an effect. That’s why we’re having this dead zone at the end of the Gulf of Mexico.

Pesticides and herbicides destroy our air, water and land and are not necessary to raise crops. Organic vegan farming uses no such toxic substances and produces large, healthy yields of all types of produce.

Dr. Warren Porter is a professor at the University of Wisconsin (USA) and we talked about pesticides and herbicides on farms and how it's affecting the farm workers. He showed a demonstration about a farm in Mexico. The pesticides on the farms goes into the streams, it affects the water quality of that stream, it affects the aquatic life of that stream. So it affects everything if we use a lot of pesticides and herbicides.

Following an organic plant-based diet is the best choice to halt climate change and protect and conserve our now scarce water resources.

What does livestock need for them to grow? Livestock needs water, they need food. Now how is the food made? From crops. What do the crops need? Water. Right? They need transportation. They need anything that we do to grow. That's our problem.

We could save a lot of water if we reduced the amount of meat that we eat, and probably go towards eating a more vegan (diet). That will save us an awful lot of water. If you want to be a true vegan, you’ve got organic food. Organic farms should not have all these antibiotics and steroids in their fertilizer. That’s the key of staying healthy.

Our respectful appreciation, Commissioner Frank Avila for your dedicated efforts to safeguard the Earth’s limited water supply and the environment. May you continue to successfully do your laudable work and spread the message about the virtues of eating organic vegan foods.

For more details on Commissioner Avila, please visit

Eco-wise viewers, thank you for joining us on today’s edition of Planet Earth: Our Loving Home. Coming up next is Enlightening Entertainment after Noteworthy News. May your noble endeavors bring greater peace and happiness to all.

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