Posts Tagged 'freshwater conservation'

Thoughtful Thursdays: World Water Day

World Water Day

Held annually on March 22, the United Nation’s World Water Day brings attention to the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater. Globally, freshwater accessibility is critical for the survival of all living things, yet it is a significantly threatened resource.

Yes, the world is 70 percent water, a staggering amount. Of that water, however, 97.5 percent is salt water and just 2.5 percent is freshwater. The UN and like-minded institutions hope that World Water Day will help people recognize the importance of freshwater and the need to conserve this precious resource.

Like all living things, aquatic animals require plenty of water to survive. So, how does the Aquarium keep our animals happy and healthy and still manage to conserve freshwater?

If you’ve visited the Aquarium in recent years, chances are you’ve strolled through Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Waterfront Park (the greenery in front of our Pier). Did you know that underneath the plant life is a system of cisterns? A cistern is a waterproof receptacle for holding liquids. In 2012, we were able to collect an estimated 200,000 gallons of rain water that was then used to water the park. As a result, not a single drop of domestic water was used!

National Aquarium staff have also worked tirelessly to design and implement the most efficient filtration systems throughout many of our exhibits. These upgrades saved more than 430,000 gallons of water last year! Additionally, our new Blacktip Reef exhibit will have a state-of-the-art filtration system installed to further reduce our need for water, while still providing a healthy and thriving environment for our animals!

Want to do your part to conserve freshwater? Here are some easy ways to get started:

  • Knowing where your water comes from is the first step in better protecting it! The Nature Conservancy has a great interactive map that can help you find your local water source!
  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  • Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  • Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
  • Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation. Better yet, plant native plants in your yard. They require less water, fertilizer and time!

Do you have tips on how to conserve freshwater? Let us know in the comments section!

A Blue View: World Water Day

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

March 20, 2013: The Streams of Maryland

A Blue View podcastClick here to listen to John discuss the important role
freshwater plays in the survival of all living things!

Held annually on March 22, the United Nation’s World Water Day brings attention to the importance of freshwater and advocates for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. Globally, freshwater accessibility is critical for the survival of all living things, yet it is a significantly threatened resource. In Maryland, our own freshwater streams and rivers need our help as they run to the largest estuary in the United States, the Chesapeake Bay.

Even if you don’t live on the water, the health of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which encompasses more than 64,000 square miles to six states and the District of Columbia, affects each of us every day. More than 100,000 streams, creeks, and rivers weave through the Chesapeake’s vast watershed. In fact, according to the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, we all live within 15 minutes of a stream, making freshwater health not just a Maryland issue, but a backyard issue as well!

Healthy streams are organically balanced, with enough oxygen to support life. Decaying plants and animal waste provide a balanced amount of nutrients, and the water is not too acid or too alkaline. In these healthy streams, runoff is kept to a minimum, and chemicals from farms, factories, and residential areas do not make their way into the stream. Countless species rely on healthy freshwater ecosystems to thrive. Fish, snakes, turtles, frogs, invertebrates…DNR states that Maryland is home to more than 100 species of fish, 20 species of salamander, and 10 species of turtle, just to name a few stream-dwellers.

diamondbackterrapin

The diamondback terrapin is just one of the many species of reptiles that rely on Maryland waterways!

In a recent assessment by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), just 45 percent of sampled streams in the Chesapeake Bay watershed were rated fair, good, or excellent. As outlined in the EPA’s Strategy for Protecting and Restoring the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the goal is to improve the health of the watershed so that 70 percent of sampled streams measure fair or better by 2025.

To help increase our understanding of stream health, DNR coordinates a team of volunteers who collect important stream quality data across the state. This program, called Stream Waders, is the volunteer component of the Maryland Biological Stream Survey. The use of these volunteers allows more streams to be sampled, giving a big-picture view of Maryland’s waterways. Volunteers participate in a one-day training session, then spend a couple days in March or April collecting aquatic invertebrate samples from stream beds.

The study of aquatic invertebrates, such as mayflies, caddisflies, and dragonflies, is instrumental in the analysis of streams. Because invertebrates vary in their sensitivity to pollutants, a healthy stream has both sensitive and tolerant invertebrate species while an unhealthy one would have only pollution-tolerant species. Ultimately, the Stream Waders data is used in DNR reports and is available for review on their website.

In our daily lives, each of us can take steps to help keep our community streams healthy. Take a walk along a nearby stream and properly dispose of trash you find along its banks. Limit pesticide use in your yard so that it doesn’t make its way into freshwater supplies. Many local organizations host stream cleanups or wetland restoration events, so volunteer your time. Even just one day a year can make a real difference to a stream in your community.

Take action to keep our streams today by joining our Conservation team at one of our upcoming cleanups

A Blue View: Every Drop Counts

A Blue View is a weekly perspective on the life aquatic, hosted by National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli.

From the smallest plants and animals invisible to the human eye to entire ecosystems, every living thing depends on and is intricately linked by water.

Tune in to 88.1 WYPR every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. as John brings to the surface important issues and fascinating discoveries making waves in the world today.

February 27, 2013: Every Drop Counts

A Blue View podcast

Click here to listen to John discuss the importance of responsible water use!

A lot of us take water for granted. We simply turn on a faucet, and there it is, in seemingly endless supply.

Freshwater, however, is not as plentiful as you might think. Yes, the world is 70 percent water, a staggering amount. Of that water, 97.5 percent is salt water. The rest, just 2.5 percent, is freshwater. And of that, less than 1 percent of the world’s freshwater is available for use by people.

According to the United Nations, water use has grown at more than twice the rate of population in the last century. Around the world, many people don’t have enough water. Even in the United States, water shortages as a result of drought or environmental issues are on the rise. In 2010, the Natural Resources Defense Council found that more than 1,100 U.S. counties—one-third of all the counties in the lower 48—now face higher risks of water shortages by 2050.

According to the National Geographic Society, the average person in America uses nearly 2,000 gallons of water per day. Only 5 percent of that, however, is traveling through your faucets or watering your lawn. In fact, the water consumption is hidden in the food, products and services you use every day.

Our diets in particular are responsible for the majority of our water consumption. Take milk, for example. Eight-hundred eighty gallons of water are required to generate that one gallon of milk sitting in your fridge. And getting beef on the dinner table is one of the biggest diet-related water consumers: every pound of beef requires 1,800 gallons of water. Even a cup of coffee takes 55 gallons of water, due primarily to the water used to grow coffee beans.

To help consumers make more water-friendly choices, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has established a program called WaterSense. This program certifies products and services that meet a set of water-conservation standards. Consumers can look for the WaterSense label on products like faucets, shower heads and toilets, and know it meets performance standards and is also 20 percent more water efficient than average fixtures! 

water sense label

If one in every 10 homes in the US installed WaterSense-labeled faucets, we could save 6 billion gallons of water per year.

Here are some ways YOU can conserve water: 

  • Calculate your water footprint to get a better sense of how much water you use per day. Awareness is an important first step in changing behavior!
  • Purchase water-friendly products for your home.
  • Live a water-conscious life: keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator so you don’t have to wait for the tap to run cold; go meatless and/or dairy-free once a week; buy local; take quick showers instead of baths; and turn off the faucet while washing dishes and brushing your teeth!
  • Check the plumbing! It’s estimated that each of us loses 10 gallons per day due to leaks.
  • For even more ways to conserve, click here.

If each of us just takes a few small steps to reduce our water consumption, we can make a big difference, not only in gallons but in the health of our planet’s finite supply of freshwater. 

Do you have any great tricks for conserving water? Share them with us in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter using #ABlueView!


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