Currently, some 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water, and more than 2.5 billion people lack access to safe sanitation. The implications of these statistics for a steepening scarcity curve are staggering, particularly as demand for water increases globally in many major sectors – industrial, agricultural and domestic. The business implications are similar to the implications for society: increased competition for water and a workforce that lacks access to a basic resource.
The Midlands supply of water is considered adequate for current population and use. However we must be mindful that we all live downstream. Every one of us lives in a watershed. Everything we do can affect water, people and natural systems downslope and downstream. One simple, popular definition of the term “watershed” is “communities connected by water.” Because of the intricate connections between waters, lands and people, river conservation work encourages whole-system, long-term thinking, organizing and action. In fact, successful river conservation work requires it. There is power and magic in this fact. Perhaps no other human endeavor forces us to apply so many disciplines; look at issues from so many perspectives; or connect so many economic, social and environmental concerns. In an age when our society desperately needs something to counter the forces that tend to separate us daily, river conservation provides it. Watersheds are literally common ground.
Under the Clean Water Act, states are required to develop lists of impaired waters. Gills Creek Watershed, here in the Midlands, is SC’s largest impaired urban watershed and it flows into the Congaree River. Impaired waters are too polluted or otherwise degraded to meet the water quality standards. The law requires that the state establish priority rankings for waters on the lists and develop TMDLs for these waters. A Total Maximum Daily Load, or TMDL, is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still safely meet water quality standards. We all need to be involved in reducing the pollution load on our streams and rivers. Visit Gillscreek Watershed Association website. You can make a difference.
You Can Help Improve Water Quality in Our Creeks and The Congaree River!
One way that all of us can help keep our water clean is to remember that storm drains flow directly to a waterway. Even though we sometimes call them storm sewers, they do not go to a treatment facility. Anything that is thrown into a storm drain or that is left on the street and is picked up by storm water contributes to water pollution. It goes directly to our streams and rivers. Pollutants include yard waste, car oil, pesticides, fertilizers, animal droppings, trash, food wastes, automotive by-products and other toxic substances. Industrial and commercial activities with uncovered outdoor storage or process areas, loading docks and equipment maintenance and washing areas may also contribute pollutants to urban runoff. Sustainable Midlands is working with the City of Columbia to mark our storm drains with medallions that say “Flows Directly to River”. We need your help! We are looking for groups interested in marking storm drains in their neighborhood. Interested? Send an email to: CleanWater@sustainablemidlands.org