Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Take Responsibility for Our Waters

October 1, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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As inhabitants of a planet that’s more than 70 percent water, it’s easy to take water for granted. If you do treat our waters carelessly, that’s a choice. However, the shore and sea creatures, aquatic plants, and coastlines don’t have any say in how they are handled. Treat them with disrespect and they’ll die off or otherwise disappear, and that will change the complexion of life on earth for all of us.

Valuing our planet’s waters requires a bit of common sense and some knowledge. While the list that follows is not all the ways that you can emphasize water’s worth, each step can have a significant impact.

Don’t add anything to water

Done with that soft drink? You’d never dream of tossing the can over the side, but would you drain out the cola? Don’t. Full holding tank on your head? Find a pumpout station. Washing your boat at the dock? Hose it off with just water and then apply a moderate amount of environmentally safe cleaning products to reusable rags to spot clean (the same applies if you’re away from the dock, as chemicals can run off into the water or into storm drains). Adding anything into the water can upset its natural balance and either directly kill off living things or promote excessive plant growth that cuts off the oxygen in the water.

Don’t remove anything, either

There are regulations against over-fishing and disturbing of nesting grounds and eggs laid by sea creatures. There are also areas you may vacation where corals and other ocean souvenirs seem tempting to remove, but refrain. A trinket to you is a habitat to someone else.

Young desperate woman not able to clean beach

Think before you anchor

Whether you’re a local or new to an area, find out what’s below before you decide to drop in for an extended stay. Even something as (seemingly) passive as anchoring can inflict damage on the ecosystem by disturbing the seabed, harming sea creatures, and damaging or destroying plants and coral. Compounding that initial potential environmental impact are uncontrollable factors including wind, currents, and wakes from other boats that can cause anchors to drag along and increase the damage.

Fill up responsibly

Any fuel that falls into the water creates pollution (and it can imperil your safety). Determine how much fuel you need and keep an eye on the pump. When the pressure indicates you’re done, stop, remove the nozzle, and turn it up to prevent dripping. If gas flows out anyway, grab an absorbent pad and mop it up. Request that the dockhand or gas attendant dispose of the pad in a safe and eco-friendly manner (never bring it back on the boat or toss it in a universal trash container(.

Don’t buy or order what you don’t need

Plastic pollution is deadly to marine and bird life. It can trap or choke them or poison them via the harmful chemicals that plastics release. In other cases, plastic pieces resemble food to sea creatures and the ingestion alters their life cycles and changes their safety when consumed by those up the food chain. So refuse the plastic straws in restaurants, carry a reusable water bottle, keep food in non-disposable containers, bring your own bags when shopping, avoid disposables whenever possible, and seek out items that have minimal or no plastic packaging.

Go chew free

The vast majority of chewing gum is made from synthetic plastics that do not biodegrade. To keep plastics out of our waters, kick that chewing gum habit or look for a sustainable, natural product.

Fertilize less

Nitrogen-based fertilizing promotes thick, harmful algal growth that interferes with recreational water activities including boating and swimming, changes the ecology of our waters, and harms the environment. Use environmentally friendly lawn care products and leave your grass clippings on the lawn — they provide nutrients without adding fertilizer


 By Lita Smith-Mines

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