Friday, October 15, 2010

Water, water everywhere...

Adirondack Park, oblique view, computer image ...Image via Wikipediaand lots of it is unsafe to drink.

October 15th is change.org's Blog Action Day. On this day bloggers around the world are asked to post about the same issue. This year it's water.

Living by the side of a beautiful lake in the Adirondack mountains, where melting snow keeps the rivers running, you might think that clean water isn't an issue I'd be concerned about. You'd be wrong.

Adirondack Park, the 6 million acre area of public and private land in New York State which was meant to be preserved wilderness, is suffering some of the worst damage in America from acid rain. Almost 25% of our lakes are "dead," no longer able to support the aquatic plants and animals that once thrived. Sadly, most of the acid pollution comes from outside of New York State, carried on air currents from Midwestern power plants, so New Yorkers are forced to rely on the inadequate Federal Clean Air Act for relief. Other pollution comes from the north, outside of the United States and even Federal jurisdiction. Our lakes are sitting ducks, so to speak.

Mercury is accumulating in our lakes as well, turning the remaining fish into toxic food. Run-off from chemical fertilizers and road salt also affects the lakes, creating smaller versions of the Gulf algae blooms. Invasive plants and animals, carried from lake to lake on unwashed boats, kayaks, wetsuits (yes, triathletes, your wetsuits), etc. choke out the natives and further upset already precariously balanced eco-systems.

There was a time when we could drink the lake water, fish were plentiful and no one got "swimmers' itch." That time has passed. Schroon Lake still tests okay, but we may be fighting an uphill battle.

Schroon Lake has a very active lake association fighting the battle. Members volunteer their time to collect water samples, look for patches of invasives like Eurasian Milfoil and inspect boats at launch ramps. I'd like to say we were winning, but really we are just not losing, yet.

Clean water is a huge problem worldwide, and I'm sure many blog posts will cover the unsanitary conditions in developing countries. There are many charities you can support to help. But after you send your donation, take a moment to think about the seemingly plentiful water that flows out of your faucets and what would happen if it was suddenly gone.

We can't live without water. If you've got clean water, protect it. Fight for cleaner power, organic farming and ecosystem restoration, before none of our water is safe to drink.
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