Take A Water Quality Quiz

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October 18th was the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Did you miss it? Not me, I was celebrating with a couple of salt water taffies and my little kiddos.

Since our family lives near the ocean, I am thankful every time we go to the beach and don’t come back with some really horrible infection or a vomit –inducing illness. ICK! So thank you Clean Water Act. But lest we take it for granted, how about a little water quality quiz?

1. What is the single largest source of water pollution in the U.S.?

Factories dumping toxic waste into a nearby river? (Bad, yes, but that’s not the answer). Fish poop? (Nope, not that either.) According to the EPA, polluted water run-off is the single largest source of water pollution nationwide.

That’s water that runs-off from storm water unable to sink into the ground, or from what’s called dry-weather run-off, which is overflow from lawn sprinklers, from people spraying driveways instead of sweeping them, from pools being drained, etc. Anything in that water’s path is taken right along with it: pesticides, dog poop, trash….you get the idea. The landscapes we have and the actions we take on them have a big impact on our nearby water ways.

2. What can you do to improve water quality?

Plan a sustainable landscape. What does that mean? It depends who you ask, but the gist of it is: eliminate pesticides and herbicides. Choose plants that are native to your area. Use water wisely. And finally, pick up any litter, debris or pet waste and dispose of properly.

3. Sounds easy enough, right? But how can you get inspired to take these steps?

Go to your nearest waterway (ocean, lake, creek, river, shore) and (depending on what is more of a motivator for you) do the following:

Doom and gloom? Go when it has just rained and look at all the trash that has flowed down stream. (Do not get in the water).

More on the sunny-side? Go on a lovely day, and take in the amazing site of the shore or stream.

Either way, don’t forget to bring some saltwater taffy and give thanks for the Clean Water Act and the EPA. Then take that motivation home, check a few water quality improvement projects off your list, and get ready to celebrate next year!

Lisa Cahill first began her work with TreePeople as a volunteer Citizen Forester. She currently serves on the board of directors for the reDiscover Center, continues to volunteer as a Citizen Forester, has been on the Mar Vista Green Garden Tour and serves on several green committees at her church and children's schools. She most enjoys working in the garden with her husband, watching her children and vegetables grow.