“Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink”
So goes the often paraphrased quote from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner which illustrates the paradox of sailing the world’s oceans – surrounded by water, water enough for a million lifetimes – yet not a drop suitable to quench one’s thirst. This raises an interesting question:
“Will our planet one day experience this same predicament due to
water contamination and the destruction of precious watersheds?”
Essential Environmental Elements
Protecting the fragile nature of our environment is a huge undertaking, involving local, state and national organizations in both the public and private sector. Yet it often seems that everywhere we look there is a new threat to the ecosystem, as businesses and individuals generate ever increasing levels of harmful byproducts as a result of making and consuming products.
While the elements of air, soil and water are all vital to our existence, water is unique in the way it recycles itself through evaporation and subsequent rain, using rivers, streams, lakes and the soil itself as pathways in the process. Along the way there are countless points at which the purity of water can become compromised, and once contaminated, it is difficult to cleanse.
Although the issue of protecting water is global, and more will be written on this important topic in future posts, there is an organization devoted to supporting the health of America’s water supply.
Founded in 1988, River Network is a national non-profit consisting of thousands of organizations, including grassroots watershed associations, statewide conservation groups, large river basin groups, Native American tribes, fishing and boating associations, businesses, state and federal governmental agencies and other national environmental organizations.
River Network is leading a nationwide movement to preserve and restore clean and healthy waters. While rivers are our focal point, we work to protect the quality of all fresh waters and the health of all people and ecosystems dependent upon them.
At the core of River Network are the nearly 700 River Network Partner groups extending across the United States. This diverse collection of organizations, ranging from the Alabama Rivers Alliance to the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve are dedicated to preserving our vital water resources.
River Rally’s Rich Agenda
Each year River Network puts on a national conference, and for 2009 the National River Rally will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, from May 29th to June 1st. Ezra Milchman, President & CEO of River Network, noted that this conference represents a unique opportunity to share ideas and best practices, as well as network with others who are making a positive difference in efforts to preserve our supply of fresh water.
Their aim is to attract attendees whose interest in the organization stem from a variety of sources:
- Member of a river group, watershed organization or land trust
- Those who fish, paddle, boat or hike along American’s waterways
- Board members, tribal members, elected leaders or government official
- Citizens committed to clean, safe water and a healthy environment
Attendees have the opportunity to attend over 80 workshops on topics such as Health & Justice, Climate & Water Efficiency, and Making Change. A series of field trips are also on the agenda, from fly fishing on the Gunpowder River to to exploring the Fort McHenry Wetlands.
The Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council – Partner Organization – With a mission to protect 2,300 miles of the Yukon River as it flows from Canada’s Yukon Territory, winds through Alaska and ultimately empties into the Bering Sea, this organization has removed eight million pounds of recyclable material over the past four summers.
Judy Petersen – Activist – A former aerospace engineer, Judy now serves at the director of the Kentucky Waterways Alliance. Besides the amazing accomplishments in her own backyard, she recently organized a multi-state coalition to successfully turn back a proposal to lower water quality standards in the Ohio River.
Tom’s of Maine – Business Supporter – For over ten years Tom’s of Maine has collaborated with River Network to educate the public and inspire citizens to take action. They have long been a leading natural brand and donate 10% of their pre-tax profits to environmental organization.
The long range goals of River Network are far reaching, yet represent a significant change in how this nation manages its sources of fresh water:
- Build a strong statewide freshwater protection organization in every state, and an effective group of local advocates for every watershed
- Find solutions to water-related human health problems in thousands of communities across America
- Assess water quality in 80% of the nation’s rivers annually within two decades – up from less than twenty percent today
- Secure major improvements to state and local implementation of the Clean Water Act in every state
- Enroll thousands of grassroots organizations representing millions of people to work together consistently and effectively toward freshwater protection
What You Can Do
Each of us plays an important role in preserving our water supply – from the products we choose to buy to the habits we develop in maintaining our homes – and we need to remember that it’s much easier to avoid pollution up front than it is to clean up after the damage is done. Here are ten tips from River Network on how you can help.
You can help keep water in our rivers in ways both large and small, from buying water-efficient washing machines to cleaning your driveway with a broom instead of a hose. And you can also help keep rivers clean by fixing car leaks promptly, reducing or eliminating the use of fertilizers and by making sure toxic chemicals don’t go down the drain.
If you want to get personally involved in the process, register for the 2009 National River Rally!
While this post covered just one organization involved in maintaining our domestic water supply, every Global Patriot needs to do their part by considering the health and well-being of the entire planet and by recognizing that all living things need access to clean water!