Rain raps on an Ozark cave, remoistening millennia-old limestone as if it were a pile of crusty food beneath a leaky faucet. Slowly the cave dissolves, and if enough moistens, the cave collapses in on itself, creating a sunken dome: A sinkhole.
If the sinkhole is unlucky, its millennia-long birth delivered it into a place garbage collectors don’t roam. So its human neighbors weigh a tough choice: Truck their trash to a faraway landfill — or dump it in that sinkhole.
The problem is new rains pull pollution from the garbage down to groundwater, up through local wells and into kitchen taps. But Ozark residents don’t want to pollute their own water. They just have few alternatives.
“People don’t get up in the morning, twirl their mustaches, and say, ‘Ahaha! How can I destroy the Earth today?'” said Bill O’Donnell, interpretive ranger for the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.
— By Sarah Alban, Edited by Tony Schick