The official Adopt-a-Drain Fall Leaf Cleanup Week kicks off Monday, October 11th, and runs through Sunday, October 17th.
Leaves in the street plug storm drains and pollute our waterways.
Storm drains feed directly into our local lakes and rivers, unfiltered, so it’s important to keep them clear for cleaner and healthier waterways. Fall is an especially important time to keep the leaves that are collecting on our streets and sidewalks out of our storm drains. While they might be “natural” debris they become pollution when large quantities hit the water, break down, and become food for algae.
We love lakes, we love rivers and streams, and we love our oceans. March 22, is World Water Day. Clean water is a human right and should be available to every human being. Unfortunately, some of us have too much water, but many don’t have enough water, and the water they have is polluted. I am lucky to live in a place with lots of water, but it is a struggle to keep it clean. Many live with polluted wells and water from farm pollution. Why they have allowed farm run-off to pollute their wells is beyond me??? The farming industry has gotten away with polluting our water, and for some reason they now think they have that right. Where I live, farm run-off is the number one cause for the pollution of our water ways and ground water. Lack of regulation on agriculture can harm water resources when raising pork, beef and other livestock, along with sugar beets, corn and soy beans.
There are industrial cities like Houston, Texas, that allow industry to pollute air and water. Stronger regulation is needed to stop water and air pollution, but that is not happening in the United States anytime soon.
Agriculture and industry are major water pollutants, but so is plastic. As the spring flooding overflows the banks of creeks and rivers the winter trash is getting washed off the land, into our waterways, then into our oceans. With some personal responsibility we all can make a difference with our behavior to water.
On this World Water Day weekend I challenge you to go meatless, I challenge you to go plastic-free, and I challenge you to get outside and pick up trash.
Plastic lasts more than a lifetime! Humans have created 9 billion tons of plastic since 1950 and most of this plastic still exists on earth. Only 9 percent has been recycled, and 11 percent incinerated. That leaves much of the plastic ever produced floating around in our waterways, poisoning fish, or releasing chemicals in landfills. As citizens of this planet we should be doing everything we can to reduce the amount of plastic we use.
The PBS NewsHour is doing an interesting series on plastic this week. I hope you will watch. See below:
This summer I wished I could have given some of our rain to drought stricken North or South Dakota. Everyday on Lake Superior seemed to sprout a rain shower. When I read the water quality of Lake Superior wasn’t superior to other Great Lakes anymore, my first thought was of this summer’s rain. Because of the rainy summer, the lake level became very high, and this high water caused some of the soft lake banks to erode into the lake causing lake sediment. The streams running into the lake bring more sediment into the lake.
An unusual fact about Lake Superior: Many streams and rivers drain into the big lake, but only one river drains out of the lake, the St. Mary’s River, and that is regulated at Sault Ste. Marie. I know the water that flows out through the St. Mary’s River is complicated with many factors, but releasing more water from the lake could probably help water quality of Lake Superior. Read at St. Mary’s River.
We can all do better to protect the water quality this magnificent lake, and other lakes also.
Slowing down the water flow can help. Buffer strips of deep-rooted plants along streams and along the lake can reduce sediment run-off, and putting in rain gardens and rain barrels can also slow the water.
The below ideas for protecting our lakes is from the Superiorforum.org , Sigurd Olson Institute, Northland college, the EPA, and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:
1 .Be conservative with your water use.
2. Recycle as much as you can with the 4 Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle and repair. And….NEVER burn trash.
3. Curb Yard Pollution. Put your lawn on a chemical-free diet!!
4. Stop aquatic invasives by cleaning plants and animals off your boat.
5. Plant native plants, and reduce turf grass.
6. Plant native trees According to Audubon, oak trees are the best for attracting insects and birds.
7. Install a rain barrel
8. Create an energy-efficient home.
9. Bring hazardous waste to waste collection sites.
10. Love our lakes!
I would add a few more:
Plastics have become a big problem for our waterways. Reduce plastic use and be sure any plastic-use is recycled. Also remember to say, “No straw please!”
Micro-fibers in our clothes also are polluting our waterways. As of yet there isn’t a good solution. Read about micro-fibers here.
Always pick up litter.
The water we have on earth is the only water we will ever have, we must take care of it!
Plastic came into being about 1950. It is lightweight and easy to make into many things. Unfortunately, plastic is awful for our wildlife and waterways. Both are choking on this ubiquitous plastic pollution.
What are microplastics? They are tiny pieces of plastic that come from our clothes, plastic litter, and synthetic fibers. Read or listen to the entire story at MPR.
At the present these plastic particles are too small to be strained out of our water treatment plants so they end up polluting our waterways, lakes and oceans. There is a new laundry bag you can purchase (see below) that will filter the microfiber when you wash your clothes.
I love this list from MPR:
5 things you can do to reduce microplastic pollution
Cut back on consuming single-use plastic products such as shopping bags, Starbucks cups and plastic utensils. Replace them with reusable items like travel mugs, silverware
and cloth bags.
Buy only facial scrubs, toothpaste and other personal care products made with natural exfoliants, such as oatmeal and salt.
Buy clothing made of organic or natural materials rather than synthetic fibers. Buy only what you need, and invest in higher-quality items so you don’t need to replace them as often.
Don’t wash your clothes as often, especially items made from synthetic fabrics like fleece jackets.
Invest in a mesh laundry bag, guppy friend, designed to capture shedding fibers during the washing cycle. Read about guppy friend here.
The substances that turn our lakes and rivers green each summer come from our lawns and yards. We think of leaves as waste, but to a lake they are food. The algae in lakes love leaves and fertilizers, and when we feed lakes too many chemicals and leaves, algal blooms turn our lakes and rivers green and smelly. Protecting water is everyone’s job What can you do? Simple–remember the land/water connection! What we do to the land we do to the water. Reduce chemicals, clean your streets when the leaves fall from the trees, and when you mow the grass clean your streets and sidewalks. Keep our lakes and rivers clean.
“The world around us,” she says, “we take it for granted. But if we pause a moment and look around, there’s so much beauty right in our own backyard. I want people to see that. I want people to realize this is not an ugly world.” Ellen Lentsch
This is an amazing story of a woman who climbed up the Red Wing, Minnesota bluffs, overlooking the Mississippi River, to take a sunrise picture everyday of 2016. Read the entire story and see her pictures here
“My vision is to create a world where we can live in harmony with nature” Jane Goodall
It’s raining where I live. Do you ever wonder where all that rainwater goes? Our earth naturally manages rainwater, drainage, and wetlands, and it is able to naturally purify and clean our water. Unfortunately, we created an impossible situation with our concrete urbanization and all the chemicals we use. Instead of allowing the rain to fall and soak into the ground we get it away from our houses and buildings as fast as we can sending water rushing down our storm drains into our lakes and rivers. As this water cascades over concrete and asphalt it picks up chemicals, pollutants, trash, lawn clippings and leaves which wash into our lakes, rivers, and oceans.
This is a classic example if everyone were to do just a bit to give some of this natural cleaning back to the earth, it would make a big difference in our water quality.
No one wants a wet basement, so always keep water 10 feet from your house or apartment, but beyond the 10 feet you can do many water managements things with a few flexible downspout extensions which you can purchase at hardware stores.
Below is an excellent blog from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization on a very simple way to use some of the water running off your home, and making a big difference for water quality.
From the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization : “Your goal, as an eco-friendly house-dweller, is to soak as much of that water into the ground as possible. The soil will filter out the pollutants and the water will move downward until it reaches the water table. As a bonus, any plants, trees or other vegetation in the area will soak up a portion of the water to use as fuel.” Read the entire blog here.
The same thing can be accomplished on agricultural land that uses buffer strips of trees and deep-rooted plants along ponds and streams. These buffer strips absorb the chemicals! The Gulf of Mexico thanks you! Read at Gulf