Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Water Polution

With the recent oil leak in the gulf cost I have been thinking a lot about water pollution. Water is essential to all life forms on this planet. However, polluted water causes more harm than good. Thankfully, modern technology has come up with ways to filter water for our consumption, but that still leaves much of the world's water susceptible to nutrients, toxins, and other harmful chemicals that cause permanent damage to our ecosystems.

I read recently that in a study conducted by the Canadian Freshwater Institute, scientists placed birth control pills in a Canadian lake, which caused male fish to begin developing ovaries. The research was meant to mimic the effect of birth control that filters through the sewage system. However, it is clear from this study that contaminants in the water system create huge implications for our ecosystem.

This issue really hits home since I grew up in the Chesapeake area where all kids in Maryland were forced to watch a video about the watershed and the dangers of erosion, run-off, and water pollution. I have even seen my brother catch frogs and turtles with 5 or 6 arms and legs, deformed, no doubt, from contaminants in the water. It's sad to see the kind of damage that can occur first hand, knowing that the cause is human carelessness.

With that said, there are many ways that we can reduce the number of contaminants that infiltrate our watersheds. Since we deal with landscaping and construction, my focus will be on preventing water pollution in that way.

One good way to prevent, run-off, which is when contaminants wash away into the watershed, is to plant vegetation with a sturdy root system. The roots bind to the soil to keep it in place so less contaminants are washed away.

In addition, retaining walls can be built to prevent erosion, since they hold dirt it place and prevent things like fertilizer from washing into water systems.

Likewise, mulching helps prevent run-off by keeping the layer of topsoil in place. It is also important to use a brand of mulch and fertilizer that is gentler on the environment. Some nutrients in fertilizer can enter the watershed and create an overgrowth of algae that kills sealife.

New permeable concrete and pervious pavers that I talked about in the last blog are also good options since they let water pass through the soil to allow for natural filtration.

I hope these ideas inspire you to be more conscious of water pollution and maybe give some of the ideas a try for your next landscaping/ construction project!