Last week in West Virginia a chemical used in processing coal leaked into the Elk River contaminating the tap water of more than 300,000 residents. Last Thursday those residents received orders to stop using the water in their homes for anything other than flushing the toiled or putting out fires. No washing laundry. No cooking. No showers. No drinking water. People were driving up to 40 minutes to use clean water. Restaurants were forced to close. Hotels were forced to close. Businesses closed. Everything stood still. Like an image taken from war-torn sub-Sahara or the aftermath of a natural disaster, people lined up to receive water trucked in from elsewhere and water bottles stacked high in relief vehicles. The hundreds of thousands affected by this catastrophe have learned a hard lesson on the value of clean running tap water.

Meanwhile in California, residents are facing drought for the third year. Water levels in the reservoirs are declining, and already water users are asked to eliminate outdoor water usage (watering lawns, etc.). If the drought continues, further steps will be taken. (Sound familiar? Springfield was in a similar position just a year and a half ago.)  On top of domestic uses, the agricultural industry is expecting a big hit, and consumers (like us if we buy fruit in the winter) are likely going to see some increased prices. People are waiting for government action, but some say that now is the time to help water customers save water and use it wisely. There is no need to wait for an order.

I have been hearing about these stories on KSMU for the last several days and it really has me thinking about how we view water resources. Sometimes it takes a chemical contamination disaster to remind people of what a privilege clean running water can be. Sometimes it takes a severe drought to connect the dots between our water, our food, and our economy.

So, what can we do? One of the best actions we can take is to instill the precious value of water in children. Connecting kids to nature by hands on teaching is what we do at the Watershed Center.  By getting students into a stream they experience the extravagant wonder of cold clear water and by using nets they are able to see critters living in the stream. You can show children our reservoirs, rivers, and explain how a well works, these all produce for us the water that comes from our tap. Get kids outside and show them the creatures and flowers and trees that share our same need for that same water.

We teach a few thousand kids from our area every year at the Watershed Center. Part of that teaching requires that the students to be in the stream themselves, allowing the experience to sink in. By supporting the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks you are supporting our clean water resources and helping us to educate kids in our community.

We have our first project for the year up on Cause Momentum and your support will help us build a shed to store items needed for our stream side education. Not only will we build the shed but also buy new boots so more students can get in the stream and learn hands-on.  These field trips are helping children learn and understand the value of water resources. Thanks for reading, and check out our links below.
Rob Hunt, Watershed Center Coordinator

Cause Momentum page https://www.causemomentum.org/projects/equipment-shed

Articles that I have been reading and following, courtesy of NPR and West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/10/261435139/chemical-spill-in-west-virginia-leads-to-state-of-emergency

http://wvpublic.org/post/7-things-we-know-about-chemical-spill-west-virginia

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/14/262503845/in-california-alarm-grows-over-shrinking-water-levels

 

 

 

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