We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow the earth from our
-Native American Proverb
We have been treating the Earth like we don't live on it.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Greener Water

We recently spent some time in the local Sierra Nevada mountains along the American River. I love this river. It is so beautiful. The clear water rushing along meeting up with boulders to form rapids of white water. The plastic bottle floating near the lost sandal.

During my visit I noticed quite a bit plastic and aluminum garbage floating along, minding its own business, probably hoping to meet up with its compadres in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Oh, the environmentalist in me cried and then picked up as much of it as I could. (Picture a mom with her friends and their kids carrying beer cans up from the river. Not a good sight. But we did it.) When I got back I started to wonder where that river flows and is anyone helping to clean it up.

The river originates further up stream near Lake Tahoe from ice melt and eventually, after a few reservoirs, dams, a delta and a bay, the water ends up in the ocean. That is a long journey, let's estimate 250 miles. There are a lot of stops along the way but it is very possible that pollution from up river could end up in the ocean. While sitting on the bank of the American River you don't think of the Pacific Ocean and its wildlife. You are thinking whitewater rafting, fishing for trout and swimming. I thought of both locations. How do the locals keep their our watershed clean? And thus help the clean the ocean environment.

A watershed is a drainage basin where water from rain or snow flows down in the form of streams, rivers or creeks toward a larger body of water, i.e. the ocean or bay. What happens upstream effects downstream. Many people don't realize that. I didn't until about 5 years ago when I heard about the Marsh Creek Cleanup.

Every year on the 3rd Saturday of September our city holds the Marsh Creek Clean Up. It is a collaboration of the local city, sponsors like Home Depot, the Resource Conservation District, Friends of Marsh Creek and citizens to clean our Marsh Creek. Every year it grows in volunteers and you wouldn't believe what we pull out of the creek. One year our Cub Scout Pack pulled out a shopping cart. How sad is that? Chairs, sofas, car parts, batteries, fishing line and everyday garbage gets taken out of the creek. I always wonder how it gets there.
I don't need to tell any of you how to keep the waterways clean, I know you guys are green, but unfortunately we need to clean up after others. Please help clean the rivers, lakes and ocean and spread the word.

The Marsh Creek Clean Up corresponds with California Coastal Clean Up Day. Now I made it very easy for anyone living in California to help clean our waterways. Visit the site above and sign up. They will send you info on who your local organizer is.

You can also check with the Ocean Conservancy for clean up locations near you. There is a link for international volunteers there also. Or simply google " 'your body of water here' clean up". For example "Mississippi Clean Up" gave me Mississippi Coastal Clean Up, which is on September 20th this year. Also search for your local Department of Water Resources, they have a lot of information.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, the American River has quite a few friends friends to help clean it up. The American River Parkway Foundation organizes a clean up. And here is a large list of Sierra Nevada and national environmental links also.

One bad note about the clean up. Ask what happens to the trash. Do plastic bottles get recycled? Where do aluminum cans go? If the organizers say to the dump, that is not good enough. Try to convince them that much of the trash floating in the ocean is from landfill garbage that got airborne. And we know you NEED to recycle those items. A couple of the articles I noted in this post address that issue. But don't give up, we all know every little bit helps.

Resources and Reads:

Algalita.org - Marine research Foundation

Floating Fecal Funship - Not all garbage comes from the land.


canadianshorelinecleanup said...


I was just alerted to your blog recently and I think it's great! Thanks for the wonderful ideas and stories on how to stay green, it is unfortunate the level of diligence we need to maintain to remain living green.

In response to this particular post, I did want to alert your Canadian readers to the TD Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup. We also submit the data we collect to the Ocean Conservancy for the International Coastal Cleanup. For the past 15 years, thousands of Canadians have come out to participate in this event across the country. Last year, over 52,000 people helped remove more than 87,000 kgs (192,880 lbs), which is equivalent to the weight of 28 elephants, of litter from our shoreline.

Anyone who is interested in participating in these events held in conjunction with International Coastal Cleanup's September 20th date, check out www.vanaqua.org/cleanup.


Allison said...

Jean, thank you for the wonderful compliment.
I am glad you alerted my canadian readers to the Canadian Cleanup. Wow! 52,000 people! That is amazing. And the amount of litter is amazing also. It is great that it was able to be diverted away from our oceans.
As the date approaches I will remind my readers of the cleanup or they can simple visit your site listed above. Or your blog to subscribe with a feed. http://canadianshorelinecleanup.wordpress.com/