WW-05980 Reviewed 2005
Copyright © 2002 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
"The frog does not drink up the pond in which it lives." Native American proverb
Minnesota has more than 11,482 lakes and 15,000 miles of river! But not all the lakes and rivers are clean today. Water stewardship means caring about our lakes, ponds, and streams. It means picking up tires near the Mississippi or saving wetlands. It means . . . action!
Turn on a kitchen faucet. What happens? Water pours out of the spigot. Endless water. You could leave, come back thirty minutes later, and water would still be pouring out into the sink (and probably onto the floor). So why worry about water?
We can't make new water. Water cycles, going around and around in an endless circle. If we pollute water, we have to make it clean again. We can't just throw it away and get more.
Some pollution that ends up in rivers and lakes, like methyl mercury and PCBs (poly-chlorinated bi-phenylsbig word here!), end up in fish. If you eat these fish, you're eating the chemicals, too.
Minnesota has lost almost half of its wetlands over the last century. There are fewer ponds for ducks like goldeneyes and hooded mergansers.
Leftover pollution in a dump or landfill can seep into the ground and eventually into the groundwater supply. This is where many, many people get their water to drink!
Our lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams need you to care about them. But what can you do? You're just a little kid, and the problems seem to be so big! Nahhh. Every single person can make a big difference! You can do two things. You can Clean and Conserve.
Okay, you're going to clean up a river. What do you do first? No, don't go to the area. Start at your house!
Household hazardous (say haz-er-dus) waste (pollution) can get into the water supply. Many hazardous wastes have labels that say things like: flammable, caustic, corrosive, caution, danger, toxic, volatile, warning, or poison. DON'T DUMP ANY OF THESE WASTES DOWN THE DRAIN OR TOILET. TELL A PARENT NOT TO DUMP THESE THINGS EITHER. These wastes also shouldn't be dumped into your backyard, where they can seep down into the groundwater. And never, ever, ever pour hazardous waste into the storm sewers or street guttersthat's like pouring them directly into a lake! Yow!
Okay, now that you've prevented pollution, you can start to work on the waste that's already in our waters. You can bust that waste clear out of the lake. You can work with a groupit's great. Here are some ideas:
See! There's a lot you can do!
Are you a water hog? Do you leave the water running from the faucet when you brush your teeth? Do you take a forty minute shower (maybe your sister does!)? Do you water the sidewalk because you never got around to moving the sprinkler to the right place?
Look below to see how many gallons of water it takes to do things in your house or apartment.
Shower/Bath - uses 330 to 660 soda-pop cans of water
Brushing Teeth - uses 22 soda-pop cans each time
Flushing Toilet - 55 to 66 soda-pop cans each flush
Hand Washing - uses 22 soda-pop cans each time
Earth's Water Supply
or call your local County Extension Office for information about 4-H environmental programs.
Jeanne Rasmussen and Mary Kroll
4-H Youth Development
Funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Extension Service, under project number 91-EWQI-9265.
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