Save Our Groundwater
Save Our Groundwater (SOG) is "a New Hampshire citizens action organization dedicated to protecting water in the public trust." According to their website, they formed in 2001 "in response to a bottled water company's application to take more than 400,000 gallons/day from the aquifer underlying [their] rural communities." It describes itself as "an all-volunteer citizen action group dedicated to protecting water as a natural resource held in the public trust now and for the future." The group epitomizes what Anthropologist Margaret Mead says: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, that is the only thing that ever has."
How and Why It Started
Several neighbors organized in response to an application for a large groundwater withdrawal permit by USA Springs, Inc. on an approximately 100-acre parcel of land located in the southern New Hampshire towns of Nottingham and Barrington. The commencement of the organization is profiled in-depth in the book Be the Change: How to Get What You Want in Your Community.
Their key objectives are the following:
- "[S]urface water and groundwater are an integrated public resource to be conserved, protected, and managed for the public good."
- "We want all environmental decisions based on best practices, verifiable science and data."
- "To educate and increase public awareness about groundwater conservation and the issues that place it in jeopardy."
- "To strengthen and advance the laws protecting water locally, regionally, nationally and globally."
Their Story: "Environmental Assault Threatens Community"
As profiled in Be the Change, the corporation USA Springs wanted to put in three wells and withdraw over 430,000 gallons of water per day from a local aquifer for massive water-bottling operation. The wells were to be situated at the headwaters of the towns of Nottingham and Barrington in New Hampshire, where most inhabitants rely on wells for their own water supply. USA Springs then proceeded to approach the Nottingham planning board to get necessary permits to begin drilling. The town boards were duped into believing that the plan would bring business there and forgot to think of the possible downsides of what could come of it, so they decided to gave them the permit.
Alas, many Nottingham residents were up in arms, objecting to the fact that the plan presented a threat to water quality and quantity. Citizens brought in experts who showed operation would drain aquifer, pollute remaining water, and disturb wetlands and wildlife. In short, USA Spring's presence in these towns was nothing short of an ecological disaster in-the-making.
Citizens Unite: The People United Will Never Be Divided!
It was under these circumstances that the "urgency of now" was realized by the people of Notingham and Barrington. With this urge, they formed Save Our Groundwater. Unfortunately, Save Our Groundwater fought all of its battles in a regulatory manner, hoping the existing regulations would serve as fodder to defeat the vandals. They soon found out that the cozy relationship between government and corporations was too much for them to overcome and they were fighting a losing battle. They needed to regroup and recalculate. They needed to break free.
Stuck in a rut, the people of these towns decided to call on Thomas Linzey to come to the rescue and teach them how to take back the land and show them what democracy looks like. They have been fighting the good fight ever since, and have "given up faith" in the current regulatory system, just as Linzey advocates. As it stands, the people of Nottingham are currently waging a battle to implement the "right of revolution," which is a clause of the New Hampshire constitution that reads, "Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the whole community, and not for the private interest or emolument of any one man, family, or class of men; therefore, whenever the ends of government are perverted, and public liberty manifestly endangered, and all other means of redress are ineffectual, the people may, and of right ought to reform the old, or establish a new government. The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power, and oppression, is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind..."