Thursday, May 09, 2013

Clean Water - Who Needs It?

I have largely avoided posting my political or social agenda, but the issue of availability of potable drinking water is universal. In Appalachia, many people's water is ruined now due to fracking and/or residual problems from mining. 

Below is a lovely essay written by Becky Park who went for a walk on a spring day and sampled various "freshwater" sites along a waterway, and recorded her findings. 

Please take less than one minute, sixty seconds, and sign the petition asking that the people of Appalachia receive what first world nations take for granted -- clean drinking water. Thank you. ~~Ginger


Originally emailed Tues. May 7, 2013:

What an interesting day we had yesterday in the great out-of-doors. I knew we were in for 100% Doug Wood when the first thing he said was, "There's a reason I don't have any eyebrows." Doug had been with his 18th century friends on the weekend and in his American Indian persona he has only a warrior's lock of hair at the back of his head. I'm so used to seeing Doug with a bandana on his head that I don't notice it anymore. And his eyes are so bright and his face such a one-big-smile that eyebrows for him are not an issue.

What is at issue here is drinking salt water. Doug poured us a round of regular tap water and then a round of water that he demonstrated was drinkable, but when we ladies took a swig--BLEH! Sippable maybe, but yuck tasting, no thank you very much!

Now let's think about the critters we just saw from stream #1. When the rain comes down and filters through a site where the soil has been disturbed, an array of elements and compounds enters the streams and increases the level of ions. This can be detected by a meter and read as "conductivity" of electrical current.

These critters are the proverbial happy clams in water with a reading of 100 to 200 micro-siemens.

Now imagine you don't just sip water occasionally, but your entire existence is in water. Their water is like our air. Yuck! The little baby insects and worms and larvae cry out to their mommies "This water is nasty Mommy! Help me!"

The conductivity reading in Davis Creek, above human dwellings, was 117. Much like it would have been in the 1700s.

Then on to the streams draining a watershed whose ridges have been blown to rubble and dumped in the headwaters: Four-mile Fork of Lens Creek--664.

Further upstream and up Bull Creek--982.

It was here in Bull Creek that Doug took our second set of samplings of the Critters Who Live in the Creek.

The first stream with the reading 117 held a fascinating array of crawly squirmy tiny things. We were looking for benthic macro-invertebrates (visible bottom-dwelling critters without backbones) but in addition to that we enjoyed finding salamanders and their babies. Worms, crayfish, mayfly and stonefly nymphs, and my favorite--the crane fly larva I could see through. Its guts looked like another creature moving inside of it.

These are the organisms that break down the fallen leaves and themselves become food for the larger critters, including fish. For a full 30 minutes we were spellbound by this community, knowing this was a small part of the big picture of life in a woodland stream.

Then, as Doug turned out the samplings from Bull Creek where the conductivity reading was 982, we began poking through the sand and leaves, waiting for the wiggle of life. There were a few nymphs and a tiny water boatman but the difference in this community was dramatic. We kept poking with twigs, examining leaf fragments and flat rocks.. after 10 minutes the toll was clear. It seemed to be a mass of rocks and leaves where only a very few resilient babies can live. Like that salty water. No good!

I knew I was with the right group when it started to rain early in the day and no one mentioned it. Thank you, Ladies, for a priceless time together and thank you, Doug, for giving your day to us.

The difference in our samplings presented an image--a lesson--the truth--that is inescapable. I feel like a stonefly nymph running and wiggling to get away from what we must face.

It really is that bad.

1 comment:

Marion K. said...

The upper part of Davis Creek--inside Kanawha State Forest--I have many good memories of. In various pools along the main watercourse I perfected my crawdad-catching skills. Great fossil-hunting, too, although to be legal you have to throw them back. And even inside the park it is not completely free of mine water, but the amount is minor. Before they built a swimming pool at the state forest, in the early 60's, the swimming area was a partially-dammed part of the creek near the park entrance. Downstream of the state forest, where the human habitation is, I wouldn't have wanted to swim--a lot of people had outhouses--but the folks who lived there used the creek for all manner of purposes, from dump to playground.