University of Pennsylvania has named 2010-2011 academic year the “year of water”(more info on that at http://yearofwater.org). The point is to remember how important this natural resource is to our survival and how we have to immediately stop taking it for granted. Concepts such as water war are already happening our the world. People sometimes walk 20 miles one way to get a bucket of water. We, in the US and most of the developed world are very lucky to not only get water (that too hot or cold) when we turn on our faucets but for most of the time have it clean and drinkable in nature..we can really start worrying about our future the day that changes!
In any case, March 15th, netimpact NJ and AWIS, NJ chapter co-sponsored a panel discussion on the water situation in NJ; focussing on both the quantity, quality and various conservation measures being taken and needed for our state. We had speakers from state level NJDEP water association, EPA (federal level), NGO (Sierra club) and a non-profit called pitch Africa.
They were all very interesting talks and made quite an impact on the audience. The lady from EPA was explaining the concept of rain gardens. These are different than natural gardens as they are done to help protect the top soil from a) losing nutrients and b) capturing as much chemicals as possible at an early stage so as not to pollute our aquifers and drinking sources. I feel all lawn owners should be given an opportunity to learn about the benefits of it which can range from a few hundred to thousand $ of saving in the long run. It can prevent basement flooding, reduce water usage and improve soil quality as well.
Sierra club speaker spoke about the harmful effects of hydro-fracking which is being touted as America’s solution to oil independency and maybe now even world’s solution to nuclear energy. But before we decide on any solution, it’s imperative for the public to know basic facts about any option such as how many chemicals are used in releasing the natural gas trapped in shales which end up eventually in our drinking water or about the chemicals released from the shales themselves.
Another topic of interest was regarding the various programs introduced at the state level to help water conservation. It was sad that not many of the participants were aware of them, but that also can be seen as hope that people once aware will act as needed. Some of the programs were: sustainable nj and watersense (kind of similar to the energy star concept for any household or commercial appliance using water).