Streams need your lovin'
Did you know that streams need tender loving care? Someone to note what is beautiful about them or if there is an ailment that needs healed? Someone to give them regular checkups, understand their normal behavior? Someone to sing their praises?
Well, streams do need this kind of loving, and there is a pretty good chance that no one is looking after a stream that you may already adore or have noticed passing by. Environmental agencies and municipalities cannot be everywhere, and most of our backyard streams are not monitored regularly, if at all. Regular monitoring of our water resources is critical: the water that comes out of your faucet begins as rain or snow and makes its way through the ground, streams, lakes, and rivers. Aquatic critters and wildlife also depend on clean water, as well as those of us that enjoy swimming, fishing, and boating.
Money and Happiness
A beautiful stream is both an economic and mental health asset. High quality streams are scenic. They enhance the beauty of a neighborhood, which increases the value and desirability for both homeowners and people that may want to purchase a home. The cleaner our water is in nature, the less expensive treatment costs are for making it fit to come out of our faucets too. Healthy streams also provide opportunities for recreation- good fishing, kayaking, swimming. There is hard evidence that beautiful nature scenes help to calm us and improve our well-being. Can’t put a price tag on feeling good!
You are empowered to improve water quality!
This leads us to Adopting a stream. What does this mean? Whatever you are willing to do to keep an eye on a stream in your area. Simply observing things on streams is valuable. Citizens can help map spread out problems to create a complete picture of a watershed. This makes it easier to prioritize issues so that effective solutions can be put in place, and to protect areas of value. There are several things you can do to help, and you can choose what works best for your lifestyle and availability.
Recording the good, bad, and the ugly: take notes and photos of areas with a lot of beauty, fish, wildlife; also bad things like bank erosion, illegal dumping, invasive vegetation. You can do this for free with the Water Reporter app, and reporting these issues to your home municipality.
Water quality monitoring: you do not have to be a scientist to test water quality. Anyone with an interest can learn how to test stream water and record what you discover. Things like pH, conductivity, flow rate, temperature, and aquatic bugs are important to establishing the health of a stream.
Organize a stream cleanup event: grab some friends, or try advertising on social media, school, or work. Your municipality may also be willing to help collect the trash at the end of the day.
Join or create a watershed group: if there is a watershed group in your area, consider joining. Working in a group can magnify your efforts and you may meet new friends. No watershed group in your area? It only takes a few people to get it going, and we can help.
Simple practices at home: if everyone does a little, we can all do a lot. Things like cleaning up after your dog, not mowing up to your streambank to reduce bank erosion, reducing/eliminating fertilizer and pesticide use on your property, and not throwing trash down the storm drain will all help the streams we all depend on.
Spread the good word: tell others about what you know. “Hey, don’t throw trash down the storm drain.” “Clean up after your dog.” “Did you know that mowing right up to a streambank is bad news bears? Consider planting trees there.” Education is powerful.
Give us a holler if you want to better understand how you can adopt a stream!