Fresh water supply vital

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Water Day is March 22, Earth Day is April 22, and even Ocean Day is celebrated in June. Water needs our attention and stewardship.

In January and February of 2014 a leaking storage tank caused a chemical spill into the Elk River creating a fresh water crisis for the people of West Virginia. Ohio stores and families near the Ohio River were also impacted as volunteers helped their families out.

Without placing blame or fighting any officials we need to look at the effects on our residents and do what we, as individuals, can do to maintain our fresh water supply. The recent discovery in Flint, Michigan of lead in the city’s pipes raises alarms for all of us. Environmental science and conservation stewardship were not discussed in many school texts before the 1980s.

Email newsletter signup

Today the topics of biodiversity, ecosystems, biospheres, and conservation are part of the science curriculum. We now realize that global water problems, climate change, pollution and a world population of 7.4 billion threaten our way of life and our right to clean water. Every person on earth is part of this giant conundrum.

With global population so high, humanity is confronted with the choice of saving the environment with ecological policies or watching as products he uses produce pollution and degradation of natural resources.

The effects of the loss of fresh water to 300,000 West Virginia residents impacted citizens in differing ways. Some citizens lost water for two months which led to increased expenses (for bottled water, ice, paper plates, eating out, etc.), difficulty in maintaining personal hygiene, hardships on the elderly, caregivers, families with babies, and getting transportation to clean water distribution sites.

The water difficulties caused schools and businesses to close, and a loss of jobs and income. This crisis demonstrated the urgent need for us to learn ways to save and conserve our supply of fresh water.

The question that needs to be asked is what can we do to prevent this crisis from reoccurring? What have we learned? The basic instinct to maintain a storage supply of gallons of water and immediate use supplies (paper plates, wipes) is common sense. May I urge you to learn more about your water supply by contacting your local water department.

Learn water conservation practices such as terrace gardening, planting flowers and shrubs along hilly sections of your yard to slow down water runoff, check regulations of storage tanks near water sources, and do not waste or pollute your water.

Learn to become a water guardian. A larger but less known concern is awareness of companies that put in pumps and drain millions of gallons out of rivers and springs. This practice reduces the local water table and results in wells drying up. (Have you thought about where all that bottled water comes from?)

Lastly, we are familiar with the water cycle in which rain falls, flows across the ground increasing the water table for our wells and continues into creeks and rivers on a journey to the salty ocean. What is changing that scenario today includes earth population, new rain patterns over the U.S. as temperatures and ocean currents change, the enormous use of water in manufacturing goods and the pollution to once vibrant waters by man and manufacturing.

There is an organization called NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) which monitors both the oceans and our atmosphere (oceans cause our weather patterns). Conserving our area’s beautiful streams and waterways needs all our involvement and concern. From NOAA’s office to companies- to neighbors- to you-we form a chain of connection to preserve our water.

As you ponder your response to increasing your water stewardship think about these questions: Who owns our rivers, springs, and ground water? Can one person make a difference in water conservation and stewardship?

Will western states need to buy our water as desertification continues? Do you think a big corporation would sell our fresh water to foreign countries who have little fresh water? Earth-where would you go if she kicks us out?


Joy McComas received her teaching degree from Marshall University and taught biology, environmental and marine science for 30 years in Lawrence County.