Plastic Ocean — just the sound of that gives me shivers up and down my spine. Unfortunately, we are creating enormous “plastic patches” in almost every ocean and sea in the world. Our litter is creating these enormous patches that have a devastating effect on aquatic life.
How do we stop it? By stopping litter at the source — where it is tossed or blown out of cars, boats or trash cans. We can prevent that litter from ultimately joining a plastic patch. Our daily choices make a difference in how much litter ends up on sidewalks and roads and down storm drains or in creeks and rivers and, ultimately, the ocean.
Trash in the ocean, according to www.oceanconservancy.org:
• compromises the health of humans, wildlife and the livelihoods that depend on a healthy ocean;
• threatens tourism and recreation and the critical dollars they add to our local regional economy;
• can even complicate shipping and transportation by causing navigation hazards; and
• generates steep bills for retrieval and removal. It is much easier and less costly to collect that litter now before it reaches major waterways.
Volunteering with Rivers Alive this month is one way to make a powerful statement about protecting our waterways. Making good choices every day about how we handle litter is another important way to prevent water pollution. Litter that travels creates what the Environmental Protection Division folks call nonpoint source pollution.
Sadly, this nonpoint source pollution is us humans and the ill-advised choices that we make on a daily basis that are the greatest threat to our waterways. Because we are the problem, we must also be the solution.
Our 10th annual Rivers Alive events are happening this month. In fact, cleanups are happening right now. Just last week, we had more than 100 volunteers already cleaning different areas of our county to protect our environment and particularly our water resources.
Rivers Alive is a statewide effort to preserve and protect our waterways in Georgia. Its events are also part of the international efforts of The Ocean Conservancy. In Liberty County, we hold our main Rivers Alive cleanup day on Saturday, Oct. 24.
The health of our waterways depends on us. At Rivers Alive, we can make a difference as volunteers by stopping litter in its tracks at more than 50 locations in our county this month. In just a few hours of your time, you can help prevent tons of litter and debris from ever reaching the ocean.
We will have official Rivers Alive T-shirts for the first 500 volunteers registered, so contact us now. We also provide all the cleanup supplies for our hardworking volunteers. SNF Chemtall, our sponsor locally, provides a great cookout for volunteers at Riceboro Creek Park on Highway 17 South after the cleanups.
So plan to make a difference and contact us at Keep Liberty Beautiful by calling 880-4888 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If Oct. 24 does not work for you and your group, we can schedule a cleanup date that works for you.
So how water-smart were you? Last week, I began testing your water smarts with two simple questions, courtesy of a quiz from the Environmental Protection Agency. How did you do?
• What percentage of rivers and streams assessed in a recent national water quality report scored a good rating, meaning the waters fully supported their designated uses — A. 10; B. 32; C. 65; or D. 93?
The answer is C — 65 percent. I think that is a failing grade.
•Watersheds are located mainly in mountainous regions with high rainfall — true or false?
The answer is false. We all live in watersheds.
This week’s quiz:
1. Most of the pollutants entering our waters come from which source — A. Wastewater-treatment plants; B. Runoff from fields and streets and sidewalks; or C. Factories?
2. Leaves should be raked down a storm drain so they can decompose in a creek or stream — true or false?
Answers will be provided next week. Be water-smart!