Saturday, 02 June 2012 19:00
We recently paddled from the Slate Islands back to the mainland. During the six mile crossing of open water, the wind was calm. Our kayaks glided over the glassy surface. A little swell caused us to gently bob up and down as we paddled. Being far from shore on this massive freshwater lake put things in perspective for me. Lake Superior is an incredibly important freshwater resource.
What do you know about freshwater? Freshwater is water that does not contain salt. Only a small amount the earth's water is freshwater. Most of the earth's water can be found in the oceans – and that is saltwater. Freshwater can be found in lakes, rivers, wetlands, underground, and frozen in glaciers. Freshwater is very important to all living things. About 60% of the human body is water. We not only need to drink water to live, but we depend on water to grow our food.
Interesting Freshwater Facts
In a 100 year period, an average water molecule spends 98 years in the ocean, 20 months as ice, about two weeks in lakes and rivers, and less than a week in the atmosphere. (http://www.freshwater.org/water_facts.html)
A major source of pollution in towns and cities is rainwater that flows into street catch basins (called urban runoff or storm water runoff). While the rainwater alone is not necessarily harmful, it frequently carries untreated waste products from our streets and yards directly to rivers, lakes and streams.(http://watercenter.unl.edu/FAQs.asp#Whatisawatershed)
It could easily take between 500 and 2,000 gallons of water to produce a typical American meal. On average, it takes about 1.6 million gallons of water to feed one American for a year.(http://watercenter.unl.edu/FAQs.asp#Whatisawatershed)
Freshwater is a precious resource. People, plants, and animals need water to live. It is important for us to conserve freshwater. Here are some water saving tips for you (from Mono Lake http://www.monolake.org/about/waterconservation ).
Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. You may have heard this one before, but there’s a good reason for that. Saves three gallons each day.
Water your lawn only when it needs it. Step on your grass. If it springs back when you lift your foot, it doesn't need water. Saves 750-1,500 gallons per month. Especially in times of drought, water with a hose instead of using a sprinkler system.
If you wash dishes by hand, don’t leave the water running for rinsing. If you have two sinks, fill one with rinse water. If you only have one sink, use a spray device or short blasts instead of letting the water run. Saves 200 to 500 gallons a month. If you use a dishwasher, run only full loads—do the same with your washing machine. Saves 300 to 800 gallons per month.
Keep a bottle of drinking water in the refrigerator. This beats the wasteful habit of running tap water to cool it for drinking. Saves 200 to 300 gallons a month.
Use the garbage disposal less and the garbage more (even better—compost!). Saves 50 to 150 gallons a month.
Questions for Discussion
Why is freshwater important?
How do you use water on a daily basis?
Can you think of other ways to conserve water?
How can we keep lakes and rivers clean?
Do you live near a lake, river, stream, or wetland?
Further Exploration and Sources
Freshwater Information: http://www.eoearth.org/article/Freshwater
Freshwater Ecosystems: http://www.epa.gov/bioindicators/aquatic/freshwater.html
Water Science for Schools: http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/mearth.html
The States of Water: http://www.nyu.edu/pages/mathmol/textbook/slg.html
Water Footprint Calculator: http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/water-footprint-calculator/
Cast Your Vote!
What should we explore in Pukasakwa National Park?
During the next two weeks we will be exploring one of the most wild remote sections of Lake Superior. The Trans-Canadian Highway heads East away from Lake Superior for over 100 miles there are no towns or roads near the lake. Much of this wilderness is in Pukaskwa National Park. We need you to help us decide what to study in this special place.
Pukaskwa National Park is named after the mysterious Pukaskwa Pits that are found in the park. Scientists are not sure why people built these stone pit in the ancient beaches along the shore, but they are thought to be between 500 and 2000 years old. We could visit some do these archeological sites and learn more about them.
There are many animals that live in Pukaskwa National Park. We could spend our time looking for animals like Black Bears, Bald Eagles and Timber Wolves.
Because Pukaskwa is far from towns and roads it gets really dark at night. On a clear night you can see the Milky Way and many constellations. If we are lucky we might even see the Northern Lights. We could spend time learning about the night sky far away from towns and light pollution.
How can we conserve power?
blog comments powered by Disqus