Can you imagine what life would be like without easy access to clean water? No pools or lakes clean enough to take a summer swim in and cool off. No long showers after a long work day. No drinking straight from your tap or even from your Brita filter because it would have to boiled first to kill contaminants. August is National Water Quality Month and aims to remind us of all of these luxuries and how precious they are to our lifestyle. We need to treat our water with care and attention so we can continue with our quality of life.
National Water Quality Month was originally founded in 2005 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but has a long history of support prior to its founding. Public support goes all the way back to the early 1970s, when initiatives for the Clean Water Act first began. After being passed in 1972, the Clean Water Act made it illegal to dump large amounts of toxic materials into water bodies. A little later, the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed in 1974 to protect the public water systems and groundwater supply. Today, the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the EPA, and water utility companies all play an important part in making sure that our water is safe to use.
Humans are not the only ones that benefit from good water quality; countless fish, animals and plants need good, clean water to thrive and survive. Consider the ongoing tragedy of the West Indian Manatees of Florida. These iconic mammals, already on the endangered list, have lost huge areas of prime seagrass that they rely on for grazing due to harmful algae blooms that block sunlight from reaching the seagrasses. The algae blooms are caused by increased water pollution and higher water temperatures. Over 475 manatees died of starvation just this year from January to March from habitat loss. This tragic loss could have been prevented by better water quality.
There’s no one source to blame for the deterioration of water quality; thousands of factors impact the quality of local waters, but there are ways that we can all pitch in to do our part and help out. Picking up after your pets, washing your car on grass or in car washes rather than the driveway, pick up and bag trash, don’t over fertilize your yard, keep your car well maintained and serviced, and becoming informed about water quality rules and regulations locally are all ways that we can each get involved in supporting the quality of our water supply.
According to the National Parks Conservation Association, 207 of 397 National Parks in the USA have waterways that are considered “impaired” under the standards of the Clean Water Act; meaning they have poor water quality. Water quality is a global crisis that should not be overlooked. For more information on how you can help keep our waters clean and contaminate-free, contact the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. Please visit our website at SoilAndWater.co.delaware.oh.us or call us at 740-368-1921.
Sarah Kidd is the communications & outreach coordinator at the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District. For information, go to https://soilandwater.co.delaware.oh.us/.