The Explorer Magazine Fall 2022 | Page 21

By Linda Nichols , Assistant Naturalist

Water is often taken for granted . However , when one stops and really focuses on the water that engulfs their life , they discover water is more than a chemical substance . Water is found in all facets of life .

Water covers 70 % of the earth . Only 3 % of this water is fresh water , and 2 / 3 of that is in frozen glaciers or unavailable ( polluted , too far below ground , etc .) for our use . Between increased consumption by humans from population growth and changes in weather patterns due to climate change , water systems are becoming stressed , affecting not only ecosystems but human water accessibility and behaviors .
Drought , or lack of water , is problematic already in the southwestern United States . The Colorado River basin services over 40 million people and irrigates 55 million acres of farmland . As of June 21 , 2022 , approximately 80 % of the basin was in a severe drought requiring water restrictions as well as crop or pasture losses .
Simultaneously , flooding , the overflow of water onto ground normally dry , is detrimental to water supply . The Nature Conservancy in their spring 2021 magazine featured an article about the flooding of the Mississippi River basin . The Mississippi River stretches from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico , and while time and natural occurrences would affect the direction and flow of the river , the Mississippi River is becoming disassociated from its flood plains due to levee and dam construction and the destruction of wetlands , ultimately leading to loss of land , higher commodity prices , and decline of species presence . All decisions upstream playout downstream .
Are you asking how this relates to Hendricks County Hoosiers ?
This is a call for us to learn from these two river basins so that central Indiana doesn ’ t become the next example an extreme water event . There are everyday actions that we can take that can strengthen and / or help our local water resources and systems .
Each person / family can contribute to a better water scenario in their home and on their adventures .
• Check with your water provider for their specific recommendations on keeping your water budget down . Let ’ s be honest — if you see more money in your pocket , there is some incentive day-to-day to do your part .
Photo by Tim Geers
• Reduce your water usage . THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS ! This can be done in as little as pouring the remaining water from your water bottle the day before onto your flowers instead of that water going down the drain . Head to your favorite home improvement store to research and purchase WaterSense products to install on your property . These are items such as shower heads , toilets , and faucets that reduce the amount of water used . Water can be conserved by turning off that faucet while brushing your teeth . Take showers instead of baths ; showers use less water . Want to be a real water protector ? Shower less …. or not as long .
• Use a sponge and bucket , not a hose when washing car . A hose can waste 6 gallons per minute . Along these lines , don ’ t use a hose for tasks that can be done with a broom ( ie . sweeping the sidewalk ).
• Only run the dishwasher or clothes washer when they are full . Less water will be used in the long run .
• Water your plants , flowers , and grass in the morning . Watering when it ’ s hot and sunny is wasteful because most of the water evaporates before the plants benefit .
• Plant native plants . Before purchasing plants ( trees , flowers , shrubs , grasses , vines , ferns , etc ), visit www . indiananativeplants . org to learn more about which plants are native to the Indiana landscape . These plants will grow stronger and deeper roots . ( Bonus : they provide a habitat that attracts more of the wildlife .) This increases the soil ’ s capacity to store water ( and , uhm , refer back to point one ). Natives also require less pesticides and fertilizer , which leads to ….
• Keep your watershed clean . A watershed is an area of land that collects and drains water from high points to low points . To learn more about watersheds in general and to discover YOUR watershed , visit www . in . gov / idem / nps / what-is-a-watershed /. Water providers have to work overtime the more pollutants there are in the water . Excessive chemical fertilizers and other pollutants will saturate into the soil and degrade it . In the waterways , the chemicals can deplete the oxygen in the water endangering the aquatic animals .
To read Linda ’ s full discussion about water conservation , visit HendricksCountyParks . org
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