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Environmental Education ~ Waterways & Water Pollution

Discovering the Shaman Healer Within
Discovering the Shaman Healer Within

Aho! Take a journey and an exploration into the worlds and the way of the Shaman. Come and sit down before the fire with the Shaman as you calm your mind and open your heart to the teachings of the Elders. As you walk the path of this course, you will re-member many skills, talents, places and people from your past that you have forgotten. Welcome to the reconnection to your purpose as healer. Let the Shaman Elder take the talking stick and listen to his words.

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Water Pollution: Healing Our Drinking Water and Waterways

By Judy Morgan

Water is an essential substance required by all life on this planet. 50-65% of the human body is made up of water. We can only survive a few days without it. Yet we often treat water carelessly, using it wastefully, dumping chemicals down drains and into waterways.

What causes water pollution?

In a sense, everything causes water pollution! Any potentially harmful substance poured down drains or toilets will end up in wastewater. Although wastewater is treated by sewage treatment plants, some of the contaminants will not be removed, and will end up in waterways (rivers, streams, lakes, etc.) and in our drinking water supplies.

Since storm drains are designed to carry rainwater from streets into waterways, anything that enters storm drains will end up in local waterways. Pouring waste motor oil and other hazardous substances down storm drains can directly contaminate huge volumes of water.

Even waste materials discarded on, or buried in, the ground may be carried by rainwater through the soil into ground water, or over soil into local waterways. Animal waste is a common source of bacterial pollution when washed by rainwater from land into beaches and lakes. Animal waste, from farm animals, pets or wildlife, has caused many beaches and lakes to be closed for swimming.

Even chemicals released into the air can be carried into waterways during rainfalls. "Acid rain" refers to rain containing nitrogen and sulfur dioxide, emitted by power plants and other industries, which mix with water in the air to form sulfuric and nitric acids, damaging crops, vegetation, and the ecology of waterways.

Beginning in the 1970's, the environmental movement forced industries to reduce the release of chemicals into waterways. The regulation of these "point" sources (called this because they came from a specific permanent point that could be identified, such as a pipe) was a big victory for the environment. However the release of many unregulated small "non-point" sources continues to be a serious problem. Scientist still do not understand the impact that small amounts of thousands of chemicals from nonpoint sources have on the environment and on human health. Recent research has found tiny amounts of many chemicals in human blood, and we simply don't know what effect these may have on us over time.

In addition, as population grows, there will be increasing competition for limited freshwater supplies. Even in the U.S. many water supply systems are currently being stretched to their limit.

Some Environmental Education Basics

What can you do to conserve and reduce water pollution?
  • Avoid use of hazardous chemicals (usually indicated by warning or caution statements on the label). If these evaporate in the air, get washed down drains (for example, in washing rags that you've dipped in solvents or other cleaning materials), or get disposed of improperly, they will very likely find their way into water supplies! There are many safe substitutes (refer to suggested references below).
  • If you have leftover cleansers or other materials with toxic ingredients, try to give them to others who would use them – at least this will reduce the amount they purchase. Or take them to the nearest 'household hazardous waste' pickup site – call your local municipal or county office to find out where this is.
  • Pick up your pet's wastes and dispose of them in the trash, so that fecal matter and bacteria don't get washed into storm drains and waterways.
  • Use environmentally safe cleaners for washing your car, or take your car to car washes that handle their wastewater in an environmentally safe way.
  • Conserve water by watering lawns and gardens only at night or early morning when less will evaporate from heat, installing low-flow showerheads and water-conserving faucets and toilet dams (talk to your local hardware store about these and other options)
Water ~ One of Our Most Precious Resources

Because it forms much of our bodies - and much of the food we eat as well - it is essential to keep our sources of drinking water, and the waterways that provide us with food, as clean as possible. Since water is so important for all life, water pollution will inevitably affect other species and the environment.

Because water is easily available at present in most areas of the U.S., we tend to take it for granted. We need to be conscious of our interactions with water, and ensure that we don't pollute it with household chemicals or waste materials by pouring them down the drain or getting rid of them outdoors.

Think Drinking Water ~ A Rule of Thumb to Live By

Don't pour anything down the drain or dispose of anything outdoors that you wouldn't want to end up in your drinking water. . . because it just might!

"Water- streaming fluids floating our cells, washing and nourishing through endless riverways of gut and vein and capillary, moisture pouring in and through and out of you, of me, the vast poem of the hydrological cycle. You are that. I am that."

- John Seed and Joanna Macy, activists and poets, from Earth Prayers

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Copyright © Judy Morgan. All rights reserved.