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Lake Superior image courtesy of Shutterstock

The drought news from the West and Southwest combined with watching Interstellar over the weekend has me thinking about water and the lack thereof.

We don’t have a drought threat here in Western New York, but, just as the article I linked to above says, “Nothing about water is easy.”  Given the spring thaws and storm-related flooding that regularly occurs here, and even more in coastal areas, one might presume that the Northeast suffers from too much water. It’s actually just a different side of the problem of water mismanagement. Water is allowed to flow unrestrictedly into storm drains, tasking aging sewer systems so that lakes and rivers receive contaminates. Run-off from farms flows freely into the same lakes and rivers, adding excess fertilizer to the other pollutants. As a result, in spite of the fact that we are surrounded by magnificent inland seas, we can’t benefit as we should.

It’s better than it was. The Great Lakes aren’t dying anymore, but they still need protection and continuing remediation, and the communities that exist around them need to fix their water systems (which is finally happening in Buffalo) and restrict harmful run-off.

It’s another reason that everyone should think twice about the chemicals they’re letting flow down the drain and through the ground.  We don’t use any fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides on our property, but drainage is still an issue. Tree roots help, but there’s still water being wasted and we’ve been adjusting the paving gradations to help. (Much of my garden is kind of an inadvertent rain garden.)

Still, there are sacrifices I am reluctant to make—containers use up a lot of water, but there are container plants that are more drought resistant.  And there’s never been a good place to put a rain barrel, but it’s time to bite the bullet. The stories from the West are scary, but they’re also calls to action—for everybody.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on April 13, 2015 at 8:03 am, in the category Ministry of Controversy.