World Water Day 2012
Today is World Water Day! What does water mean to me? What does water mean to you?
This is what water means to me… I think back into my memories of Bible School and stories of old that includes such stories as Moses being raised from the Nile as a baby, Jesus turning water into wine, Jesus walking on water, and water as baptism in the Christian faith.
As a child, and later as a young person I basically took water for granted. Only later, when I attended college and courses involving water such as biology, chemistry, ecology, watershed management, etc. did I really understand the basic structure of water and the 3 forms of its existence. the solid form as ice, liquid form such as tapwater and the gaseous state as fog or vapor. Then, when I became involved with wetlands, I began to look at the salinity content, or the amount of salt in the water itself. I then separated water into 3 more types, the 1st being saltwater, the 2nd freshwater, and the 3rd being transitional, termed estuarine(mixed salinity).
Later, again within my career in water resources, wetlands and streams, I separated water into 2 broad classifications. The 2 classifications were water quantity and water quality. my separation of water into these 2 areas helps me focus on approaches to water resource management. When dealing with land development and water resources in such land uses as agriculture, for street, subdivision development, planning, transportation, and fish and wildlife habitat, both aspects are important.
In water quantity, I was able to gauge whether there was an “average” supply of water within a watershed context. Several of the agencies that I access information from with regard to water quantity involved US Geological Service (USGS), who measures the quantity of water in the waters of the US. Another governmental entity that I access is the National Flood Insurance Program(NFIP) under FEMA. This program tracks flooding and flood risk including floodplains and potential need for flood insurance to cover flood losses from high precipitation events. The US Army Corps of Engineers(USACE) is also identified as a major federal agency involved in the water quantity of the waters of the US, primarily with respect to navigation, as well as water quality. They are the lead US federal agency with oversight of wetland delineation.
In water quality, I was privileged to be able to regulate the coal industry for many years and become aware of the importance of water quality of freshwater sources and the resulting connection to municipal systems to provide drinking water. Also, later I was resolved with subdivision development and construction practices and the importance of BMPs to prevent sediment and streams from disturbance of soil activities. A major agency involved in water quality with respect to the biological integrity of the waters of the US is the US Environmental Protection Agency(USEPA). They work in association with state environmental regulatory agencies to track and monitor parameters deemed important for water quality. They are a sister agency that work with the US Army Corps of Engineers to ensure the protection of wetlands and streams.
There is a critical need for freshwater for inhabitants of this planet. 97% of the Earth’s water is saline or salty. More than 2% of fresh water is locked up in ice at the poles of the planet. From that amount, only a small portion is actually available for freshwater for critical life needs. Developed countries enjoy a higher degree and supply of fresh water than undeveloped countries, in general. However, development and land-use exceeding carrying capacity often stress the water resource. Important underground water aquifers, used by large populations are often depleted when recharge from precipitation events, such as droughts occur. Other considerations of water quality may involve disease and health-related issues.
Streams and wetlands are the veins and kidneys of the Planet Body Whole. there is an old expression,” What goes around, comes around!” I use this expression for what we call The Hydrologic Cycle. to cycle is a merry-go-round of water in the 3 phases as water evaporates, transpires, and precipitates among landforms on the Planet. Water seeks the path of least resistance.For this reason based upon elevation, and gravity water continually moves from clouds to land to wetlands and back to the vast sea that is our great oceans. As the water travels across these landforms, it becomes attached and changed and absorbed in the human body construct. For today I offer these insights to you as a summary of my view of water today and how its travels, to and fro back to the heavens and then distributed to the different ‘Spheres of our Planet... “The lithosphere is the solid, rocky crust covering entire planet. the hydrosphere is composed of all of the water on or near the earth. This includes the oceans, rivers, lakes, and even the moisture in the air. The biosphere is composed of all living organisms. Plants, animals, and one-celled organisms are all part of the biosphere. Most of the planet’s life is found from three meters below the ground to thirty meters above it and in the top 200 meters of the oceans and seas. The atmosphere is the body of air which surrounds our planet. Most of our atmosphere is located close to the earth’s surface where it is most dense. The air of our planet is 79% nitrogen and just under 21% oxygen; the small amount remaining is composed of carbon dioxide and other gasses.“[citation http://geography.about.com/od/physicalgeography/a/fourspheres.htm%5D. Remember, our bodies primarily consist of water – we are all one connected in this lifeline we call water. Be will with the waters this day…
Swampy, World Water Day March 22, 2012