........but not a drop to drink", Rime of the Ancient Mariner -Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Today, October 15, is Blog Action Day and we are supposed to write on something that interests us regarding environmental action and, as regular readers know, I'm interested in water. Lake Superior, Gitchee Gumee, the main subject of this little writing exercise of mine, contains 10% of the worlds fresh surface water. There are still a number of areas I paddle on the lake where I keep a tin cup on my deck and dip it in if I need a drink. I've written about taconite tailings, sunken 55 gal drums from World War II, and refinery discharges into Lake Michigan. All of that is good and important stuff to be aware of but todays environmental thought is much simpler and much more personal. Think about where your water and other resources come from and use 'em wisely.
It struck me up at camp this weekend that our water usage there is about a tenth of what it is at home. The reason for that is because we have to pump it out of the ground by hand. Its easy to let the water run when you're brushing your teeth or run the faucet until it gets cold. When you're getting about a pint per stroke it kind of makes you more of a conservationist. When its time to get clean at camp we take the wood we cut and split and lug it along with the water that was pumped, down to the sauna house. Standing under the running water while you shave, gaze at yourself in the mirror, etc is just not an option. Having to actually work for your water, physically work for it rather than writing a monthly check to the utility (and water is still a bargain!), makes you appreciate it and think more about conserving it. Water can and has run out. Aquifer levels fall and lakes dry up. Potable water is a big problem in a large portion of the world. Just take a little time to think about where your water actually comes from.
We had the pleasure of having fish fry on Friday night in Port Wing, WI with my friend TheGreatCircumnavigator. When part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore was designated as the Gaylord Nelson Wilderness Area, the GC decided to commemorate the event. He got the word out that if we wanted to donate to the environmental cause of our choice he would do a solo paddle around the new wilderness area. A lot of us signed on and one afternoon, when the weather forecast was stable, he threw his kayak in at Meyers Beach and paddled the 75 miles to Bayfield, circumnavigating the entire archipelago and arriving early afternoon of the following day. He is also building, coincidentally enough mostly by himself, an environmentally sound home that is off the power grid. I ran this idea for a post by him and he mentioned the fact that we are one of the few countries on earth that flushes our toilets with drinking water. Most people use 'gray water', rainwater, or other non potable water sources. I'll bet if people had to pump it by hand we would figure out a way to collect rain water, rinse water, or other water that would typically just go down he drain or storm sewer.
Once again, think about where your water and other resources come from and please use them wisely. Little things add up and collectively they will make a difference. You don't see the "Think globally, act locally" bumper stickers much anymore but its still a very admirable sentiment.