Hey Folks! I am not sure why, but I have been struggling with this last water post! I really don’t know why, because, quite honestly, water conservation is one of my favorite subjects and thanks to with Todd Strait, Education Coordinator, Clearwater Underground Water District, I have a great little video to show you all. It’s probably because I have a tendency to get on a soap box about how much water we don’t have and how much we waste and how much we have polluted what we do have and, well, you get the picture, right? So, I have written this blog, like, seven times now, and none have seemed worthy of putting up.

Well, this is the one! I will start with a poem, if you will allow me too, that sums up everything that I angst over when it comes to water. It comes from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:

 

“Water, water, everywhere,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.”

I promise you, this is not an English lesson, but it is a life lesson.  We, as humans, are surrounded by water, but, as we have learned, most of it is not drinkable. In fact, did you know that you can die from drinking salt water? According to oceanservice.noaa.gov/Ocean Facts, you would die of dehydration before you were ever able to drink enough water because of the salt. Not only that, you would be thirsty the whole time!

Well, since I am already digressing, I might as well go further…salt makes you thirsty—this is why you always see salty snacks on bars or tables where beverages are sold!!!

Okay, I am back from my meandering, useless, but fun fact mission. Another reason we have water we can’t drink is because of a type of pollution called non-point source pollution. What is that, you might ask? Well, non-point source pollution is pollution that doesn’t come from a specific point. Huh?

Examples of this would be fertilizer or pesticide streaming off your lawn during a rainstorm or oil running off the surface of a parking lot. This is the problem we worry about: runoff picks up “things” that contaminate water. Some of that stuff, you can see, like below. Some you cannot. When water is contaminated, to us, to plants, to animals, it is useless. We can fix most of the contamination, but not all of it.

Well, here it is. The much anticipated short interview with Todd Strait, who is the Education Coordinator at Clearwater Underground Water District.  He has this great demonstration model, the Rain Fall Simulator, which shows how our Earth actually helps clean up after us humans. Unfortunately, we make it hard for our Earth to do that! Okay, take a moment and watch my, albeit armature, interesting video with Todd Strait.

 

Well, what did you think? Okay, on a side note, it was VERY cold that day and we were playing in the water. I’m a Yankee and even I was cold! He goes on to talking about what they are going to be doing over the next few years with the new property that they have but the essence of this video is the demonstration. Here, let me break it down for you…

Bucket 1: Non-permeable surface: allows for runoff without any type of filtration to water bodies.

Bucket 2: Lawn: helps slow down water and allows for infiltration but excessive use of chemicals can run off.

Bucket 3: loose soil: runoff to bodies of water carrying sediment—clogs the water body and carries potentially hazardous pollution.

Bucket 4: Native grasses: slows down water, allows for infiltration and filtration of water to plants and aquifers.

I like this quote from him best: “A root structure in place controls soil. When soil is held in place, it doesn’t go somewhere else and it allows the water to permeate and infiltrate into the ground and help recharge our aquifers.” Okay, I am a water geek, I can’t help it!

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the video and demonstration. It was pretty awesome of him to take the time and talk about rainfall with me. Actually, we have had quite a bit of it here lately. According to the National Weather Service, we, here in Killeen, could see as much as 4 inches of rain before our rain stops today!

Anyway, I digress…again…

So, now that we have the vocab down, let’s tackle what we can do.

1. Be aware of what we are doing! What does this mean, really? Well, every time we drive a car, go to the lake, raft on the river or fertilize our lawn, we are potentially creating pollution that can spread to our waterways.  The key is to know how to handle what you are using—follow the directions and clean up when you are done! This includes dog poop! The feces of domesticated animals are a big contributor of unwanted E.coli in waterways. Not only is it unsightly, it’s bad for our clean water. Speaking of which, I really need to teach my dogs to do this for themselves!!!

2. Learn that more is not better. For example, if the bag of weed and feed says to apply at a certain rate, apply at that rate! The lawn will take up the nutrients that it needs but the rest just stays on the surface. When it rains, the extra washes off into creeks and streams, providing nutrients in places where it’s not needed or, in some cases, wanted, and then you get plants growing where you don’t want them.

3. Grow native! Hmmm…that does not mean run around in the buff! It means grow plants that are native and adapted to your area. They require less fertilizer, less water and they provide a buffer to slow running water, which allows that water to settle and infiltrate into the Earth, rather than rush into a waterway. By the way, the below picture is from the horticultural program at Texas A&M!

4. Be mindful of your vehicle. I know--it’s just a tiny drop of oil, right? I mean, what is one drop of oil going to hurt? Well, your car may have a drop, and another car has a drop and another car has a drop and another…you get the picture right? Soon, that parking lot is going to look like a rainbow during a rain shower because of all those “single” drops of oil from all the vehicles that have parked there!

5. Watch what you put down the sink. Every time you put oil or paint or other types of substances down the drain, you take the risk it not being cleaned and then returned to the environment, unfiltered.

 

Okay, so, obviously, there is any number of differnt things I could talk about regarding water and pollution. I could talk about the effects of different types of pollution, how one thing affected by pollution may affect something else without ever being directly exposed to it...can you guess what I am talking about?

 

Anyway, I could also talk about how when water filtrates through the soil, microbes help clean the pollution, how vegetation slows down running water to help in inflitration, how native vegetation can help clean water ways, but we would be here for the rest of the year! Besides, I have to come up with another topic now!

so, now, it’s your turn! Tell us how you can help clean up our water and keep it clean! We want to hear from you! You can email us, facebook us, leave a message on the website—whatever you do, let us know your water story and how you help!

 

Educational Blogger

About the Educational Blogger

Emma Merlo studied theater and music at Austin College for four years, and toured nationally with the Missoula Children’s Theater for two years.  She has taught kids all over the US from age 2 to age 18. She loves science education and especially space!