By Patrick Troyer

Education specialist

Paulding SWCD

Whether you believe it or not, water quality truly is everybody’s business. We all play a part in the health of our water that we rely on every single day for a wide variety of uses. Not only do we determine the health of our water locally, we play a part in the health of everyone’s water downstream as they receive the pollution that has been added. There are several ways that we as humans pollute the water in many of our daily routines as well as ways that we can be more mindful of water quality.

We all enjoy fresh, clean water, not only for nourishment, but for recreation and many other uses in our daily lives. Take a moment and think of all the ways you have used water at some point today. You may have used it to cook some food, water your garden, brush your teeth, take a shower, care for livestock, or maybe cleaning the house. As you can see, water plays an important role in just about everything that you do in your daily routine, which only makes it that much more important that we have a clean and reliable source of water available.

When taking about water pollution and how it moves around, it makes it worthwhile to mention a little about watersheds. Are you unsure of what this term means? A watershed is an area of land in which all waterways within that boundary drain to a common body of water. All the rivers, creeks, and lakes within this area are included in addition to the soil, air, groundwater, and cities that fall within this area. In our area, we live in what is known as the Lake Erie Watershed which means all our water eventually drains to Lake Erie, primarily via the Maumee River.

Many of our smaller creeks drain into either the Auglaize River which then drains into the Maumee River at Defiance, or straight into the Maumee River. Basically, everything that we do here affects the health of those waterways once our water reaches those areas collecting pollutants along the way.

So what kinds of pollutants could get picked up as water drains into our waterways? Let’s go back to some of the things that are part of our daily routine. The car you drive to work or school could have an oil leak or maybe a fuel leak that gets onto the pavement. Fertilizers and pesticides used on gardens and in fields could be overapplied or applied before a rainstorm so those could runoff into the nearest waterway.

Think about where most of us wash our cars at home, usually on the driveway. Once we rinse these items off, where does all that soapy water go? Down the driveway and into the storm drain which goes straight to the creek nearby. Many of those soaps have phosphates in them that are one of the contributing factors towards algae blooms. Litter is yet another pollutant that can find its way into the water whether it be a piece of paper or a plastic bottle. The point of the matter is this: from the beginning of the stream to the end, all these pollutants are going to accumulate as the stream flows and empties into another. So, the person at the end of the stream gets all the pollution that has been collected.

With this pollution, we see many negative effects on the environment. Think first about fish who live in the water. They ingest many of these toxins that could harm those who eat them, so the fish could become unfit to eat or maybe die. Water could get to the point that algae blooms could close it off to swimming or boating as we have seen with Lake Erie and Grand Lake St. Marys. Not only do we hurt the quality of our water supply, but the water supply of the wildlife who use those streams or lakes for their water needs.

So, you might ask what the importance of healthy and clean water might be? According to the Nature Conservancy, $450 billion in foods, fiber, fuel, manufactured goods, and tourism rely on healthy water resources. Fishing or swimming in polluted water can cause disease that can make an individual severely ill in addition to wildlife that may eat the fish. Think back to all the ways you use water on your routine. Not too many want to use polluted water to brush their teeth or swim in. Our water on earth is limited, let’s do our part to keep it clean for future generations to enjoy!